TF1 reportedly ready to abandon free-to-air plan for LCI
October 7, 2011

French commercial broadcaster TF1 has abandoned its attempt to migrate its information channel LCI from pay to free-to-air on the country’s digital-terrestrial platform, according to local press.

According to Le Figaro newspaper, the broadcaster is close to signing a new carriage deal with pay TV operator Canal Plus. However, the broadcaster told the paper that no deal had yet been signed.

It was the refusal of Canal Plus to renew its existing deal with LCI that led to TF1 moving to migrate the information channel to free-to-air. However, the pay TV broadcaster is currently under intense regulatory pressure, following the recent decision by the competition watchdog to rescind its five-year old approval of the merger of CanalSat with rival service TPS and to fine Canal Plus €30 million for failure to meet the conditions set at the time. Canal Plus has already offered €5 million for non-exclusive carriage, which was rejected by TF1, and the latter has also received offers reportedly ranging between €2-4 million from ISPs including Orange and Bouygues Telecom for carriage of the channel.

TF1 meanwhile has seen opposition to its free-to-air ambition grow, with culture and communication minister Frédéric Mitterrand declaring that it would send a bad signal about the future of pay TV on the digital-terrestrial platform.