France's crusade against American cultural domination rages on.

Having won its battle in the recent world trade negotiations against U.S. films and TV programs, the French government has now placed a ceiling on how much American pop music radio stations here may play.French disc jockeys will be breaking the law if out of every 10 CDs they play over the air, more than four are of non-French (meaning, for all practical purposes, American or British) origin.

But while the government's campaign to erect protectionist barriers against Hollywood drew enthusiastic support from local filmmakers, this latest move has received a cool response from the radio stations concerned and the public.

"Nobody can look forward with anything but apprehension to the prospect of turning on a transistor and hearing mostly French rock and French rap," says Paris pop music critic Didier Lamotte. "French rock is all right, but no one who knows anything about music pretends it's the real thing."

The new law means that French fans will be virtually isolated from the center of their musical world across the Atlantic, Lamotte insists.

Philippe Labro, who runs one of France's top radio stations, RTL, denounces the latest attempt to keep American cultural influences at bay as a "bad" law that condemns French listeners to a "musical ghetto."

He adds: "A quota system has never constituted a universal remedy for cultural problems."

French government officials don't agree. Fresh from their triumph over America's demand for unrestricted trade in all forms of audiovisual entertainment at the world trade talks, they're in no mood for compromise on what's become known here as cultural correctness.

Prime Minister Edouard Balladur, now firmly focused on France's presidential election in 1995 when he hopes to succeed Francois Mitterrand, was surprised and delighted by the way his government triumphed on the cultural issue at the recent General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) negotiations.

"Balladur is portrayed as the man who saved French culture from destruction by the Americans," notes political writer Jean-Louis Draze. "He and his supporters aren't about to stop beating that particular drum. The nearer the presidential election approaches, the louder they'll beat it."

But if the French prime minister won a battle at GATT, he hasn't yet won the war. By attacking on the pop music front, he may have committed a serious blunder, according to some critics here.

"France has a genuine film industry, even a television industry," says arts critics Sebastien Loisel. "So the government's claim that protectionist measures are needed to prevent the greedy, all-powerful Americans from swallowing them up makes sense to a lot of French people."

However, he says, the same isn't true of rock music.

"Even the most chauvinistic French regard rock as quintessentially Anglo-American," he says. "What we produce here is, at best, a pale imitation - barely acceptable for home consumption, but almost completely unexportable."

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For the past 35 years, the French have done their best to give "le rock francais" world-class appeal. Veteran rockers like Johnny Halliday (real name: Jean-Philippe Smet) and Eddy Mitchell (born Claude Moine) have soldiered on valiantly but to little avail.

"They are just not the real thing and everyone knows it," says Loisel. "After all, if they were, they wouldn't have been compelled to adopt American-sounding names."

This time, Loisel says, the cultural protectionists have gone too far: "Young rock fans won't stand being told they're allowed to listen to American rock groups only in small doses."

Loisel predicts listeners will boycott stations that obey the new rule. He foresees pirate stations springing up to cater to the French thirst for the latest U.S. CDs.

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