It was in a tweet on Thursday night that Carrefour announced that it would stop distributing the far-right weekly. Rivarol. Requests at this address are not new. Messages from Internet users unhappy to see Rivarol on the shelves of their supermarkets have been swarming on social networks for several years (here in 2014 in the case of Monoprix). No effect so far. If the tweets “Pleaded guilty” Y “Anti-Nazi Surveillance”which rose again on Thursday to point out that “the emetic Rivarol intolerably still present in many Carrefour stores”, were successful this time, is that the context has changed recently. In fact, large retailers are no longer required to offer for sale this newspaper, known for its nationalist, racist, anti-Semitic, denialist and homophobic positions.
No more perfect fairness rule
In August 2019when Carrefour France had been singled out for the presence of copies of Rivarol in their stores, the sign had pleaded for constriction. “We are a press distributor. We cannot choose the titles that are given to us, they are imposed on us. We must put them up for sale impartially and without segregation. All this is explained in the Bichet law of April 2, 1947.the group had then responded in the comments.
If this rule has never appeared as such in the Bichet law, it derives from article 6 of this text on the “Statute of newspaper and magazine groupage and distribution companies” adopted in April 1947 (the initial version of which can be consulted here). What article provides “must be admitted to the cooperative society [de messagerie de presse] any newspaper or periodical that offers to enter into a transportation (or consolidation and distribution) contract with the company”. The rule of “impartiality” has “from the beginning it was conventionally imposed by publishers” press, and “implies that agents must receive all the publications entrusted to them, and give them the same care when putting them up for sale”explains an article in Légipresse, a publication specializing in media law news.
Therefore, the answer provided in August 2019 by Carrefour was still valid at the time. But today this is no longer the case, for two reasons: the reform of the Bichet law that occurred at the end of 2019; as well as a decision, regarding the week Rivarol specifically, taken last May by the Joint Commission of Publications and Press Agencies (CPPAP), a body attached to the Ministry of Culture.
First, the legal framework has evolved. And the new version of the Bichet law approved on October 18, 2019 no longer imposes perfect impartiality in the distribution of press publications. Only “the political and general information press” (IPG) is subject to a mandatory carriage obligation. Thus, the new article 5 establishes that “points of sale cannot oppose the dissemination of a political and general information press title”. They refer, as indicated in article 4 of the law, to all “The newspapers and periodicals that provide permanent information and commentary on political and general, local, national or international news, tending to illuminate the judgment of citizens, dedicate the majority of their editorial space to this subject and present a manifestly superior to the concerns of a category of readers’.
On the other hand, press distributors are not required, with some exceptions, to sell titles other than IPG titles. In this case, “references and quantities served at points of sale” they are defined in the contracts concluded with the press companies.
“The publication presents a defect of general interest”
Until then, this reform had not had any special impact on Rivarol, while the weekly continued to appear as a publication of political and general information in the records of the Mixed Commission of Publications and Press Agencies. Except that the CPPAP has since revoked this approval, through a decision pronounced in May and currently contested by Rivarol before the administrative judge.
Following a self-referral from the commission, a registered letter – which To watch the news was able to consult – was sent on March 29 to Jérôme Bourbon, both publication director and editor of the far-right daily, informing him that a decision had been made “re-examine the certificate issued to the RIVAROL publication before the end of its validity period”. A new certified letter was then sent to him on May 20, to communicate to Borbón the conclusions drawn from the plenary session on May 4, during which the CPPAP “carried out the reexamination of the registration certificate issued to the RIVAROL publication during the subcommittee of 02/15/2018 and due on 02/28/2023”.
The commission is your right. Indeed, “registration of newspapers and periodicals before the CPPAP […] it’s optional”, as she writes on her site. The request must be made to this body, which is responsible for deciding whether the publications benefit from the economic regime of the press, and therefore the advantages derived from it. Next, “The favorable opinion of the CPPAP gives rise to the delivery of a certificate, valid for a limited period that cannot exceed 5 years, and renewable upon express request.” The certificate issued to a publication may be re-examined at any time, in various ways, and in particular at the request of the president of the commission or at least six of its members. In this case, the reconsideration decision comes as a result of a final conviction of Jérôme Bourbon for contesting a crime against humanity, pronounced in December 2021. But also the publication of a forum on the pages of the Worldat the beginning of March, where some thirty historians and personalities denounced the indirect public aid from which Rivarol.
It follows from the letter addressed to the director of rivarol, and transmitted by the CPPAP to To watch the newsthat “the commission cannot recognize that this publication is of general interest in terms of the dissemination of thought”, a condition, however, required to benefit from the economic regime of the press, by virtue of articles D.18 of the postal and telephone communications code and 72 of annex III of the general tax code. In accordance with these same provisions, the content must not be likely “shock the reader with a demeaning portrayal of the human person that undermines their dignity and decency or presents violence in a favorable light.” It also follows from the criteria that the CPPAP takes into account for the issuance of certificates that they must be denied. “Denialist publications that incite racial hatred, xenophobia and those that violate the dignity of the human person”.
Re rivarol, the commission notes that the content “regularly published in his columns” are likely to incite racial hatred, “the editorial line of this title […] blatantly promotes Holocaust denial.”. He criticizes him, among other formulations of an anti-Semitic nature, for the term “Lobby” to designate the Jewish community. For these reasons, “the commission considers that the publication presents a defect of general interest and that it can no longer remain registered in its records”.
Therefore, if Rivarol was present in the previous list of political and general information publications carried by the CPPAP (whose last version dated from October 2021, as this file shows), it is no longer so in the updated list published online during July. However, who says private publication of its IGP title, says distributors released from the obligation to offer this publication for sale.
Referral-suspension and appeal
Hence the change in policy by Carrefour, which chose to withdraw Rivarol of the range of titles of press that are offered in their newsstands. A change that was thus formalized on Twitter, on Thursday around 8:00 p.m. -after the group was mentioned in several publications on this subject, and requested by To watch the news. the group spoke in these terms: “As a result of the decision of the Mixed Commission for Publications and Press (CPPAP) of the Ministry of Culture not to renew the registration certificate issued for the publication Rivarol In benefit of the aid plan for the press, Carrefour has decided to stop selling this weekly.
Beyond Carrefour, all press distributors could stop selling Rivarol. With important economic consequences for the weekly. The certificate issued by the CPPAP, due to the advantageous distribution conditions that accompany it, allowed Rivarol receive each year about 100,000 euros in indirect state aid, according to its director. The committee’s decision also excludes Rivarol the advantages of the economic regime for the press, that is, a reduced VAT rate of 2.1% (instead of 20%), preferential postal rates and access to press aid from the Ministry of Culture. However, you cannot prejudge the publisher’s right to rivarol, SARL Editions des Tuileries, to edit and publish this publication.
Given the magnitude of the potential losses involved for Rivarol withdrawal of his certificate, his publisher decided not to stop there. Therefore, the Tuileries editions appealed to the Paris administrative court.
On July 5, the precautionary measures judge was called to rule on a precautionary order presented by the publisher, aimed at urgently suspending the CPPAP’s decision. A request rejected by the judge, who underlines, in the judgment consulted by To watch the newsthat “To challenge this decision, the plaintiff company alleges that it has not been the subject of a conviction in violation of the law [sur la liberté de la presse]. However, the lack of general interest is not conditioned by the existence of a criminal complaint or conviction, while in addition the person of the director of the weekly was convicted in particular for challenging a crime against humanity and incitement to racial hatred..
This emergency sentence is provisional, pending the court’s consideration of the merits of the case. According to information obtained by To watch the news, the hearing date has not yet been set. After receiving the judge’s order in the Paris administrative court, the Tuileries editions filed an appeal before the Council of State to request its annulment. No follow-up has yet been given by the Council of State.
At the same time, the associative fabric continues to put pressure on distributors, in the hope that the decision made by Carrefour will finally be accepted by all. The campaign launched in October 2021 by Sleeping Giants activists, anonymous individuals fighting against media funding and other content they believe promotes hate, continues. During the “The first week of September we are going to launch, together with other associations, an awareness campaign aimed at merchants of Rivarol»Trusted To watch the news one of the representatives of the French branch of the Sleeping Giants.
The activists have already found a main target, mentioned at the beginning of this article: Monoprix. A message has also been posted for the attention of the trade and distribution group. this friday on twitter. “Are you going to remove this multi-convicted, racist, anti-Semitic and denier weekly from your shelves, as Carrefour and Culture have already done?”