Copyright: 1995 by Reuters, R

         PARIS, Jan 11 (Reuter) - France has decided to take its
fight to protect European culture to the information highway,
according to a position paper prepared for an upcoming G7
         The paper, made available by officials from the French
Ministry of Culture, says France will argue at the Group of
Seven meeting next month that creation of a high tech
information society must not be allowed to undermine cultural
         ``Putting the information society in place must not lead to
either content becoming uniform or cultures being levelled out,''
the paper says.
         The G7 meeting, to be held in Brussels on February 25 and
26, has been called to discuss ways to build the so-called
information society, epitomised by global computer networks,
electronic libraries and new audiovisual technologies.
         Among those due to attend is U.S. Vice President Al Gore, an
early advocate of exploiting the new technologies on a global
level. The rest of the G7 comprises Britain, France, Japan,
Italy, Canada and Germany.
         The French paper makes clear that Paris wants to encourage
a jobs-creating high technology industry in Europe, but not at
the price of seeing European -- and particularly French --
culture swamped by a tidal wave of foreign culture.
         ``Each country should be able to set a framework for
supporting local cultural production (and) to impose...specific
requirements to preserve cultural and linguistic diversity,'' it
         Paris has long been concerned that its culture is under
threat from an onslaught of Hollywood film and television
programming, and by the not unrelated encroachment of English as
a global language.
         It has most recently said it will use its six-month
presidency of the European Union that began on January 1 to
``reinforce European cultural identity.''
         Paris's EU programme for the next six months includes
support for a strengthening of the EU's so-called Television
without Frontiers directive that, among other things, seeks
to limit non-European programming in the EU as a way of boosting
home-grown products.
         Attempts by the outgoing European Commission, the EU's
executive arm, to revise the directive foundered earlier this
month under strong opposition from commissioners opposed to the
imposition of strict quotas on foreign programmes.
         It is not clear whether the directive will fare any better
with the new Commission that takes office on January 23.
         France also says it will push the EU to create a European
multimedia industry that will be able to promotion European