The French competition authority has given the green light to the acquisition of TMC and NT1 by the country’s biggest commercial broadcaster, TF1, but has set a number of conditions that remove many of the advantages of ownership.
The Autorité de la concurrence ruled that for a five-year period the advertising sales for TF1 and the newly acquired channels should remain separate and that no cross-channel discounting will be allowed. The competition authority was keen to preserve “the independent offers of advertising space between TF1, on the one hand, and TMC and NT1 on the other”. To this effect, ad sales TMC and NT1 must be handled by a separate sales company.
With regards to programme rights, TF1 will not be permitted to schedule programmes from one broadcaster on another channel and the number of repeats on each channels will be capped. Also, cross promotion of the channels will not be allowed.
TF1 acquired the two channels in order to counteract its falling audience share due to increased competition on the digital terrestrial network. Last September, the media authority CSA gave its blessing to the acquisitions while posing a number of similar restrictions. (See Broadband TV News passim)