A week after Emmanuel Macron’s speech at the Sorbonne on Europe, Arcom, the audiovisual regulator, estimated, Thursday May 2, that it must be counted in its “entirety” as speaking time for the presidential camp as part of the European election campaign.

In a letter addressed to the Les Républicains (LR) party, which had contacted it, Arcom considers that, “if the words of the President of the Republic did not express explicit support for the list led by Ms. Valérie Hayer, they nevertheless presented, in their entirety, a direct link with the election.”

The regulator underlines in particular that these remarks, “contributing to taking stock of past action and exposing the elements of a program, could have an impact on the election” of June 9. The independent authority also observes that this speech, lasting almost two hours, was delivered “while the electoral campaign is fully underway”. The different stations which broadcast the speech will therefore have to take this into account, by balancing the speaking times of the other lists involved in this election.

The party led by Eric Ciotti had written to the regulator the same day of the speech, so that the entire speech, which it described as “an electoral propaganda operation”, would be deducted from “the speaking time of the list” of the presidential camp – Renaissance, MoDem, Horizons and UDI –, led by Valérie Hayer. Since April 15, and as before each election, TV and radio stations are required to respect a principle of fairness in the treatment of political forces, before the June 9 vote.

“A subject of inequity between applications”

On Public Senate on April 26, the first secretary of the Socialist Party, Olivier Faure, also announced his intention to request Arcom: “It is curious that the Head of State, at this moment in the sequence, takes speech, mobilizes the television channels, does it as if he were the head of his own list, but without [his speaking time being] counted.” He then mentioned “a subject of inequity between the candidates”. The television channels themselves questioned themselves and some questioned the regulator, like BFM-TV.

The day after his speech, Emmanuel Macron returned to the subject after criticism from the opposition. “It was a word from the President of the Republic yesterday. Afterwards, the rules are defined by others and that is very good and independent,” he said.

The party led by Eric Ciotti had also contacted the National Commission for Campaign Accounts and Political Financing (CNCCFP) so that it could take into account the expenses of this speech “within the campaign account” of the list led by Valérie Hayer . Mr. Ciotti specified that his request concerns “direct and indirect costs as well as various benefits in kind received”.