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12 October 2004

The French switch off at the Cinema

Mobiles silenced in French cinemas
Amelia Gentleman in Paris

Responding to years of lobbying by the film industry, the French government has legalised the use of mobile phone jamming devices in cinemas, theatres and concert halls, to prevent audiences being disturbed by ring tones and telephone conversations. Sophisticated technology means people can be prevented from receiving and making mobile telephone calls within 30 metres of the device. Only emergency calls will be able to override the block.

French film-makers have said the use of mobile phones in cinemas was resulting in a "disastrous" impact on ticket sales. The change in the law is part of the government's campaign to make cinemas more enticing. Patrick Devedjian, the French industry minister, said: "It's the same for concerts. You know how it is when thugs let their phones ring during a concert."

He added: "But that's all over now."

Until now, the use of blocking devices has been punishable with a fine of €30,000 (£20,660) or a six-month prison sentence.

The Guardian

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