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PARIS -- Twice this month the Poster & Advertising Administration (AAP), which holds a monopoly on newsstands and kiosk advertising, has banned ads. AAP is a joint venture between publisher Hachette Filipacchi Media and Paris press distribution leader NMPP.

In the latest case, AAP refused to run posters that duplicate the March cover of trendy music and culture magazine Nova. AAP officials say that cover art -- a nude, intertwined couple above the headline "Sex Without Showing Off" -- was inappropriate for an outdoor campaign, as it violated standards against images that pose a threat to morality or public order.

But the Paris High Court shot down AAP's arguments late last week, forcing the advertising and kiosk monopoly to instantly run the ads under threat of daily fines of nearly $3,000 per poster.

Earlier this month, the AAP had sought to block publication of a poster campaign from investigative and political satire magazine Le Vrai Papier Journal ("The Real Paper News), which is a print spin-off of a top weekly TV show on cable TV leader Canal Plus.

AAP argued that the campaign, which duplicated images and slogans from a cover story on corruption at City Hall, contained "political messages" that violate advertising standards. It based its arguments on the campaign's timing -- it was scheduled to break just days before the first round of voting in local elections on March 11 -- which could have a detrimental impact on incumbent Mayor Jean Tiberi's reelection bid.

Editors at Le Vrai Papier Journal suggested that it was AAP that was playing politics, arguing in court that the ban was a last-minute effort to curry favor with Mr. Tiberi and guarantee continuation of the kiosk monopoly should his center-right list defy odds and win the election.

A judge at the Paris High Court agreed with magazine editors one week before the local elections, ordering AAP to immediately run the campaign and pay damages to Le Vrai Papier Journal for lost sales linked to the censorship.

Copyright March 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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