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TF1, M6 closing loss-making DTT channel

In another blow for digital-terrestrial pay TV in France, commercial broadcasters TF1 and M6 have taken the decision to shut down TF6, the pair’s joint venture channel on the platform.

TF6 recorded a net loss of €1 million last year on sales of about €17 million. It registered a reduction of 30% in advertising sales, which had accounted for 50% of overall revenues, amidst a general decline in the advertising market.

The channel is available on the Canalsat and Numericable pay TV platforms as well as on digital-terrestrial TV. The channel will close on the expiry of its current distribution contracts with the pair at the end of this year.

The DTT bouquet of which it is a part only has about 400,000 subscribers, against reported distribution costs of €4 million for the channel.

The channel’s deputy managing director, Laurent de Lorme, said that the ‘mini-generalist’ format of the channel had been rendered unsustainable on pay TV by competition from similar free-to-air channels on DTT.

The news comes as French media regulator the CSA prepares to hear bids by TF1’s news channel LCI and M6-owned generalist channel Paris Première to move from pay to free on the DTT platform. The CSA will hear LCI’s appeal on May 7, followed by Paris Première on May 19.

According to M6, Paris Première saw a decline in advertising revenues of between 20-30% last and is likely to fall into the red if it remains on the pay TV platform. The broadcaster says the channel could be viable as a free-to-air service, reaching profitability by 2018.

Another channel on the DTT pay TV platform, Eurosport France, could be forced to relinquish its licence if Discovery takes full control as channels owned by non-French companies are not authorised under French law to broadcast on DTT.