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The French government will allow cinema, theatre and restaurant owners to install technology to block mobile phone calls from their premises - so long as there is no interference with emergency calls or to phones outside the building.

Industry minister Patrick Devedjian announced the change on Monday, previously the devices were outlawed, as they are in the UK. The change in the law is in response to lobbying by the French cinema industry which blames inconsiderate mobile phone users for falling ticket sales. It is part of a package of measures to get French punters back into cinemas.

Devedjian told newswires: "It's the same for concerts. You know how it is when thugs let their phones ring during a concert. But that's all over now".

The Irish telecoms regulator, ComReg, took action against a Dublin cinema which fitted a mobile phone blocker to one of its cinemas last year. The technology was withdrawn after the cinema manager was threatened with a €25,000 fine and a year in prison. ®

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