'Support commercial TV'

M6 boss, Nicolas de Tavernost (left) pleaded on Wednesday that the only French television sector which is not being supported is the private sector. He then explained that the new private networks’ association, that also includes TF1 and Canal+, is working out a plan to support private television.

Presenting a new female-dedicated website Teva.fr, the online offspring of M6’s Teva channel, de Tavernost went even further on the public service broadcasting (PSB) matter, saying that he found it “surrealist that revenues were still guaranteed in a period of such hard economic crisis.” He recalled that the French State would pour €450 million into France Télévisions’ until 2011 in compensation for the prime-time ad ban.

Later in the day, de Tavernost added in a release that he “wasn’t asking for any public financial support for private networks but shedding light on the new ad revenue tax on private networks that was set up at a time when ad revenues were significantly at a low ebb. Private TV sector asks tor the same attention as PSB.”

Since the start of 2009 private networks have been further taxed on additional ad revenue so as to compensate for the PSB financial gap after the ad ban.

The previous day, RTL-owned M6 posted almost stable revenues for 2008, reaching a €1.35 bn consolidated revenue, down 0.1%. In 2008, Plurimedia ad revenue rose 1.3% to €752.9 mn, including €658 mn for the M6 network, down 2.6%. Ad revenues on other platforms including M6’s digital channels rose 40.3% in 2008 to €94.9 mn.

M6 group is then keeping its course in the digital and web sectors. M6 Web, including M6 Mobile and catchup service M6 Replay generated in 2008 a revenue of €86.7 mn, up 17.4%. The group owns around 50 websites, not fully ad-financed.

According to de Tavernost, forecasts show that the ad revenue ebb tide already affecting M6 will touch the web sector this year.