The French government has said it might postpone the awarding of the so-called ‘bonus channels’ to TF1, M6 and Canal + because of its intention to launch the DVB-T2 standard for digital terrestrial broadcasting.
“France has notified Brussels a draft decree establishing the new (…) broadcast standard [DVB-T2]”, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Industry headed by Eric Bresson, told the French press, confirming an earlier report in Le Tribune.
The original plan was to award an additional digital terrestrial channel each to the original analogue providers TF1, M6 and Canal+ as compensation for the additional competition in the new digital environment and the subsequent loss of advertising income.
The new channels would be given to the three broadcasters this November, with Canal+ planning a free-to-air channel. Both TF1 and M6 have come out against Canal’s plan for yet another FTA channel and have asked to delay the implementation of the bonus channels.
In the meantime, the European Commission has not approved the award of the bonus channels and last November wrote a letter to the French government.
With the new plan to introduce DVB-T2 in the market, the French government may have found a way to manoeuvre itself out of this delicate position. Because of the numerous DVB-T receivers out in the field, the Ministry said it does not expect a mass-market before the end of 2013.
The response from Brussels on the draft order on the introduction of DVB-T2 is expected before the end of November, which would allow the government to publish in early December.
“This is a notification as a precaution. No arbitration has been made to date on the date of application of this standard and frequency to which it applies,” according to Bresson’s ministry.