French regulators have rejected requests from TF1’s news channel LCI, M6’s culture channel Paris Première and Canal’s doc channel Planete + to convert their pay-TV channels into free-to-air networks.
In reviewing the applications on Tuesday (July 29), the Conseil supérieur de l’audiovisuel (CSA) assessed the finances, ad market and demand for free-to-air TV found new channel launches would create problems for existing channels with similar mandates.
The CSA determined the advertising market is not robust enough to support new free-to-air channels and the arrival of new ones could hurt channels that launched two years ago. However, the regulatory body left the door open to revisiting the applications in the future should market conditions improve.
Reuters reports that hundreds of jobs are now on the chopping block at TF1 and M6, both of which lobbied hard for the changes.
TF1’s chief executive Nonce Paolini said the shutdown of 24-hour news net LCI is “likely” by the year’s end. The channel launched two decades ago and now trails free-to-air competitors iTele and BFM TV in the ratings, according Reuters.
“Everyone knows that LCI has no future in pay-TV,” chief executive Nonce Paolini said, adding that TF1 is still determining whether to appeal the ruling, which also cast doubts around the future of Paris Première. Execs at M6 are also considering an appeal.
Canal+, meanwhile, issued a statement calling the decision “wise and responsible,” and added that it had only asked for documentary network Planete+ to shift to free-to-air because it worried LCI and Paris Première becoming free would hurt the overall pay-TV market in France.