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French wine regions up in arms on advertising

The French wine sector has sent an open letter to the government, demanding it do more to protect the industry against the threat of the anti-alcohol lobby.

The letter describes how, ‘contrary to promises by the president, the government is ignoring the legal injustice to the wine sector’. A copy has been sent from each of the wine regions in the country.

It names specifically the banning of advertising wine on the internet, which was not included in a specific list of allowable advertising mediums in the 1991 Evin Law, and so is by omission illegal.

It also names the constraints on journalists to write freely about wine, and accuses the Ministers of Health and Agriculture of taking no decision regarding ‘this catastrophic legal deadlock’.

Marie Christine Tarby, the president of lobbyists Vins et Societé has spent much of 2008 liaising with the wine regions, underlining the extent of the threat facing them, and mobilising them to launch this unified oppostion.

She told decanter.com, ‘The internet did not exist in its current form when the Evin Law was drawn up. We are not looking for total liberty [to advertise wine], but we are asking for the same limited rights on the web, as we have in the press.’

‘Most importantly,’ she added, ‘we are pressing the government to not penalise an industry that is 100% French, where almost all of the profits stay in France, and that is of enormous cultural importance to this country.’

A number of arresting images have been created to draw attention to the issue – such as one showing a bottle of wine wrapped in barbed wire, with the words ‘Watch out, talking about this bottle can have you arrested’.

A national demonstration is due to be hold within the next few months.

Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux

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