Pascale Paoli-Lebailly ©RapidTVNews | 14-09-2011

Even though he regards himself as a DTT advocate, Michel Boyon, the President of French TV regulator CSA is recommending the adoption of a new broadcasting standard based on DVB-T2 MPEG-4.

Currently 19 DTT channels are being broadcast in France and the leading DTT groups TF1 and M6, which audiences and ad revenues have already been shaken by the arrival of new entrants, are not eying a new possibility favourably.

Michel Boyon did not mention the eight new channels, including HD, to be launched in the coming months, but according to him the call for bids can’t be delivered before knowing under which technical standard the new channels will be operated. He personally estimates DVB-T2 would permit the broadcast a higher number of channels.

Paradoxically, Boyon’s recommendation is not so far from TF1 and M6’s expectations: changing the standard would delay the launch of new channels from 12 to 18 months as no audio-visual group would want to invest in channels that could not be received by the whole population.

As the full switchover is about to be completed by November 2011, a new norm would oblige French viewers to change any TV equipment they had bought or at least change their adaptor. No TV set is currently suitable for DVB-T2.

Michel Boyon retorts that launching new channels will not be necessarily delayed as “first received by IPTV, satellite and part of cable, which represents 45% of the population”.

Now the choice is a political one and is up to the French government which has already notified the European Commission of its plans to change the standard.

Besides affecting viewers, such a decision will also have impact on the market, as new entrants like BFM TV and NRJ are standing up against this idea. They argue such a change would block the audio-visual landscape in favour of TF1 and M6 and appear as contrary to the general interest.