France – TF1 (1994)

A list of 18 Ethical Principles, accepted in January 1994 by 200 journalists of TF1, the TV network with the largest audience in the country. It was understood as not being a “code” or “charter” but “principles” that a journalist is bound to respect, besides legal obligations and provisions in the collective contract.

1. Respect for the diverse sensibilities of viewers calls for a warning before pictures are aired that could shock or traumatise some people.

2. It also requires that violent pictures be limited to news reports whose exemplary value is demonstrated by the news .

3. It  demands that any picture of a pornographic nature be refused and  great care be used with reports containing sequences that might offend some viewers’ modesty.

4. It will also cause journalists to use maximum tact in the handling of stories touching upon childhood, and to respect the wishes of families.

5. Journalists will make it a rule to let the various protagonists of an event or issue in the news express contradictory views. In the case when one of those protagonists has explicitly refused to talk, the fact will be mentioned in the report.

6. It is recommended to avoid the useless or unjustified repetition on the air of sequences that can  finally cause viewers to question  the honesty or respectability of a person or organisation.

7. So long as the responsibility of a person has not been proved in court, the greatest care must be taken in the use of language so that viewers will not confuse involvement, indictment and guilt.

8. Respect for privacy must cause journalists to avoid harassing  the close relations of a person that happens to be in the limelight.

9. Whenever a person might be endangered by the words he/she expresses or by his/her presence in a certain place, technical means will be used to make his/her face and voice unrecognisable.

10. Journalists will not air sequences shot with a hidden camera that might enable viewers to recognize a person or a private place.

11. They will abstain from filming an event when the presence of cameras might encourage criminal activity. They will refuse to film a crime that a person or organisation has publicly announced.

12. In case of a kidnapping or any other crime committed against a child, journalists must act only in the interest of the family, if need be after consulting the authorities.

13. Journalists abstain from airing the interview of a person that speaks under duress.

14. They abstain from granting air time when it is demanded by force, except in exceptional cases when refusal might endanger an individual or when the authorities formally request it.

15. Journalists will be especially careful when they use quickie street interviews or quickie opinion surveys done by telephone. They will thus avoid distorting the meaning of a news item or a situation.

16. Stock shots will be used with care. When their airing may cause misunderstanding, they will be dated and labelled for what they are.

17. If, to make a demonstration clearer, a report needs to stage a recreation of an event, the fact will be explicitly noted on the screen or in the comment.

18. It goes without saying that no payment shall be made to groups or individuals seeking to stage an event or take part in criminal acts in front of the cameras.

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