Alain Weill, president of BFM TV owner NextRadio TV, and Jean-Paul Baudecroux, chairman of the NRJ Group, have protested against the acquisition of the Bolloré Media channels Direct 8 and Direct Star by Canal+. Meanwhile, Canal+ chairman Méheut Bertrand outlined his plans for the two channels.
Both Weill and Baudecroux threaten to sell their digital terrestrial channels when the French media authority CSA will okay the sale of the two channels to the Canal+ Group. They feel that Canal will become too dominant in the market and there will be no room for independent broadcasters.
Speaking to Le Figaro, Weill said: “The acquisition by Canal + of Direct 8 and Direct Star shows clearly that there is more room for independent players. Claude Berda had kept the chains two years before selling to TF1 and Vincent Bolloré, five years. This proves that both of them realised that they had no place in this market “
Weill said his company is willing to launch new channels on the digital terrestrial network, but that the authorities are slow to act. Meanwhile, he claims he has received several offers to buy his radio and TV business.
“We have ideas, projects, and willingness to develop. But the regulator must ensure media pluralism and diversity of operators in the near future by assigning the available frequencies to the actors, who have demonstrated since the launch of digital terrestial broadcasting their ongoing commitment to the vitality of the audiovisual French landscape.”
Jean-Paul Baudecroux, CEO of the NRJ Group, seems to agree. He said on BFM TV on September 9: “If the CSA does not promptly assign a second channel in order to pool our investments and costs, do we have to sell to Bertelsmann? Is this what they want?”
Meanwhile, Méheut Bertrand, chairman of Canal Plus, has explained his plans with the channels the Group acquired, to the staff of Direct 8 and Direct Star, “Our world will be upset with connected TV connected and we need to be everywhere, both with premium pay TV and with free-to-air TV. With digital terrestrial, we already have iTélé and the unecnrypted blocks on Canal+. Now, with Direct 8 and Direct Star, we will strengthen our offer. I am convinced that the future belongs to good content and strong brands.”
With regards to the timing, Bertrand said things will start to happen during the first quarter 2012, when the agreement is approved by the authorities. He said he is confident the CSA will okay the acquisition, as the authority also approved the acquisition of NT1 and TMC by TF1.