France TV forges ahead with ad ban

Forty years after being introduced on French public television, commercials will definitely belong to history on January 5. The ad ban on public networks, to the exception of France O, has officially been greenlighted by France Télévisions’ board of directors and is about to change the face of French TV.

Prime-time programming will then start at 8:35pm on public networks and will drive other networks to adapt. Arte and M6 have already announced they will follow the new schedules as have DTT and cable channels TMC, NRJ 12 or Paris Première. However, Canal+ and TF1 will keep launching their programs at 8:50pm, at least over the first weeks.

Despite many requests asking him not to obey the French government, Patrick de Carolis and his board of directors have agreed to officially ban advertising even though the law has not been fully voted through yet. France Télévisions President argued that over the last months, the ad ban had economically been anticipated by the market and that company had prepared new January schedules. The reform is now “essential for the company to keep working well,” he added.

France Télévisions’ unions, that call to strike on January 5, as well as some left wing deputies have already deplored such obedience to the government.

France Télévisions board of directors also adopted the 2009 budget whose deficit is estimated to €94.6 million (vs €116 million this year), but to which €40 million must be added to transform the holding into a unique company.

To compensate for the ad ban, deputies have also voted through the two taxes on private networks ad revenues and web access suppliers. But private networks also gained the right to add a second ad break when airing dramas and movies.