France fries cell phones

Performance venues there can now install signal-jamming equipment to deal with rude mobile-phone users.

French mobile users who refuse to switch off their phones while watching a movie or play will face new obstacles as venues begin installing signal-jamming equipment in line with new laws.

The right to block phone signals within such buildings is now effect in France. Installing such equipment will reportedly to cost about $7,300 (6,000 euros) per instance but appears set to win priceless levels of customer satisfaction, with surveys showing overwhelming support in France for the measures that address rudeness.

Mobile phones users blocked under the new French measure will still be able to make outgoing calls to emergency services numbers in case somebody becomes ill, for example, during a performance--a feature that is a requirement of any such implementation.

Similarly, phone users will be able to step into a hallway to make an urgent call or check messages as the block is strictly limited to the perimeter of the performance area.

Kevin Spacey, a Hollywood actor and now artistic director at London's Old Vic theater, recently criticized British audiences for failing to switch off their phones during performances.

"You have to respect the fact there is some degree of behavior that we expect in the theater, and we're going to demand it at the Old Vic," Spacey told BBC Radio 4 last month. "It's a phone-free zone. We don't want them ringing, and we certainly don't want them ringing and people ignoring them, pretending that it's not theirs."

Will Sturgeon of reported from London.