The French broadcasters NextRadioTV and NRJ Group have said they have submitted applications to the regulator CSA for two new DTT channels, RMC Sport HD and Chérie HD.
In November 2011, the date set for the completion of analogue switch-off, the three “legacy” private channels TF1, M6 and Canal + will each be awarded with a “bonus channel” under the 2007 law on the future of television.
The allocation of this additional channel for the three broadcasters is to compensate for their transition to digital, a decision that has been strongly criticised by the opposition and other broadcasters. For its part, the media authority CSA has issued a call for nominations for two new national channels on DTT, in HD.
“The bonus gifts will be distributed soon. This is an opportunity for the CSA to make a balance so that there is not a side two independent actors, new entrants, with a string, and the other major historical groups with six or seven free channels,” said Alain Weill, CEO of NextRadioTV, to French news agency AFP. “We are two independent groups that need to grow. But if we cannot grow, we will be marginalised.”
Both groups say their bid is only likely to preserve the pluralism born of the launch of DTT. RMC Sport HD will be a sports news channel, Cherie HD is a female skewed lifestyle channel. “Women deserve their glossy channel. It will appeal to all women, not just the household under 50 years,” said Jean-Paul Baudecroux, head of NRJ Group.
At the moment, NextRadioTV has a single free-to-air news channel and BFM-TV and the NRJ Group own the music and young lifestyle channel NRJ12, also available free-to-air. Private broadcaster TF1, who will receive a bonus channel, has already expanded its presence on the terrestrial network by gaining control over RMC and NT1.
Other interested parties are also expected to file applications for the two new HD channels that will be awarded by the CSA. Jean-Luc Azoulay, who owns the regional channel IDF1, for Ile de France (Greater Paris area) said he wants to launch a national HD channel, IDFrance 1.