EU to ask France to reconsider bonus channels

by Andy Sennitt.

The European Commission (EC) will ask France to review its stance on the “bonus channels” it plans to grant big broadcasters to offset the costs of a transfer from analogue to digital TV, according to an EC reasoned opinion obtained by Reuters. The country’s big broadcasters such as TF1, M6 and pay TV operator Canal+ are set to get new channels this year as they are asked to broadcast through digital and analogue signals, and hence face higher costs.

But the EC is opposing the bonus channels as discriminatory to competitors and in violation of rules limiting state aid, the document showed. Under European rules, if a member state fails to conform to a reasoned opinion within two months, the Commission refers the matter to the EU’s Court of Justice, which arbitrates the dispute.

France, however, is considering the deployment of a new digital norm known as DVB-T2, better suited to high-definition and 3D broadcasts, which may delay the process for several years, according to industry experts.