Industry levy proposed to fund French PSB

French authorities have fleshed out plans for banning advertising from the primetime hours on the country's state-run television channels.

President Nicolas Sarkozy, surprising the industry and colleagues, announced in January that the five state services should go advert-free.

He appointed a commission to investigate the possibilities, and its leader, Jean-Francois Cope, this week confirmed that commercials would be banned after 6pm daily.

Cope also proposed three methods by which the consequent funding gap - estimated at 800m (638m) - could be filled.

First, the country's TV licence fee, which has been static for several years, could be raised and subject to annual increases.

The second proposal would see a new tax on electronic consumer goods; and the third a tax, or industry levy, on telecoms operators and internet service providers.

Cope said he favours the third option, though the solution could be a combination of all three.

UK regulator Ofcom, currently consulting on how to fund public service broadcasting on this side of the channel, has urged stakeholders to look to France and the idea of a communications industry levy.