French regulator rejects applications for free TV channels

PARIS, July 29 Tue Jul 29, 2014 10:10am EDT

PARIS, July 29 (Reuters) - France's broadcast regulator rejected applications from TF1, M6, and Vivendi's Canal+ to shift three of their respective pay-television channels to free-to-air, dealing a setback to the companies.

The CSA regulator said in a statement on Tuesday that they based the decision largely on the fact that the advertising market remained weak and there were not enough marketing dollars to go around for free-to-air channels.

It also said some of the last crop of free channels that launched about two years ago could be put at risk if the shift was approved.

TF1 had applied to take its 24-hour news channel LCI from paid to free, while M6 wanted the same for its high-end cultural channel Paris Premiere. Canal+ applied for its documentary channel Planete Plus.

The decision could lead to lay-offs at TF1 after the broadcaster's chief executive said the LCI channel was not viable based on a paid model. (Reporting by Leila Abboud and Gwenaelle Barzic; Editing by James Regan)

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