France Télévisions targets bouquet strategy

Pascale Paoli Lebailly

France Télévisions’ new 2009-2010 season must signal a success for the PSB reform, handled by Patrick de Carolis. The PSB President, whose term will end in August 2010 and cannot be renewed by President Sarkozy, wants to end on a bright note. In a few months from now, the five channels of the group, until now composed as a holding of companies, will become a unique structure, with new operational methods and social conventions.

The new structure will also change the relationships with the world of creation, as producers fear losing opportunities as they must pitch projects to one decision-making team instead of several, as in the current system.

France Télévisions’ new upcoming schedules are meant to reflect this bouquet strategy, based on the full complementarity of the channels’ programming. The group announced it will strengthen news, with eight new current-affairs shows created; original creation and events; culture; and also local and regional reports. Original creation comprises contemporary dramas, prime-time docs and a new global youth brand called Ludo.

This key reform is coming a few months after another big shake-up, the launch of the partial advertising ban in January 2009. The public group is still expecting the French state to put in the €450 million compensation for the loss of prime-time ad revenues, as the European Commission has not yet greenlit the process. But over the last six months, fortune has knocked at the door. FTV has just announced a surplus of daytime ad revenues evaluated at €70 million. With this extra amount of money, the French state could be tempted to deduct it from the €450 million.

Such a possibility might partially satisfy TF1 and M6 that have appealed to the EC against the €150 million put in in August 2008, six months before the ad ban reform became effective. At the same time, a 1.5% to 3% tax on additional ad revenues at private networks has been set up by the reform to contribute to ad ban compensation. Owing to the economic crisis, French private networks are also contesting this tax, whose amount for TF1 is expected to reach €80 million for 2009.