By Stuart Thomson
The fusion of French commercial broadcasters TF1 and M6 arises from a “natural” and “comprehensible” desire on the part of their owners to foster “a sort of cultural sovereignty”, according to Roch-Olivier Maistre, president of French media regulator the CSA, which is due to undertake audiences with the two broadcaster groups.
Speaking at the Rencontres de l’Udecam advertising-focused event, Maistre said that the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified tendencies already present in the audiovisual market, and added that it was not the role of the regulator to “conserve and preserve the status quo”.
Maistre said that consolidation had been an accelerating trend for a number of years, particularly in the US.
The CSA is due to give its official view of the merger of the pair at the beginning of next year, ahead of the renewal of authorisations for the two broadcasters to operate in France that are due in the spring.
The creation of a combined commercial broadcasting giant will account for the lion’s share of the French advertising market and, in addition to the view taken by the CSA, the merger must be approved by France’s competition watchdog, the Autorité de la Concurrence.
The latter is scheduled to rule on the merger next summer.
The combination must also be approved by the French government. The broadcasters hope to conclude the merger by the end of 2022.