France Télévisions’ Pflimlin calls for review of ad rules

France Télévisions president Rémy Pflimlin has called for a fresh look at the rules governing advertising on the public broadcaster’s channels, but stopped short of calling for an overturning of the ban on advertising in primetime instituted by the previous French government.

In an interview with financial daily Les Echos, Pflimlin said the subject should be revisited and hinted that the clear divide between daytime and evening hours should not be set in stone. He said there were “several possible scenarios” that could be looked at to arrest the decline in the pubcaster’s commercial revenues.

France Télévisions ended 2012 with a shortfall of €55 million in advertising revenues, a sharper decline than experienced by commercial players, which Pflimlin attributed to the broadcaster’s inability to offer primetime inventory. Revenues for January were in line with budget but were still 20% down year-on-year, he said. He said the broadcaster had “no visibility” about revenues in the near term. Pflimlin said he hoped to finalise an agreement with the government about the level of its direct financial support by the end of February.

Pflimlin said he was strongly committed to the transformation of France 3 into a regional service, and reiterated that this would take place in two stages, initially establishing a stronger regional identity but essentially maintaining a national structure.

In the long term, he said, France 3 would become a group of independent regional channels with a national identity only for news and primetime programming. He said he also wanted to strengthen France 4’s youth-oriented identity without necessarily turning it into a kids channel.

He said France Télévisions’ participation in Gulli, co-owned with Lagardère, remained open, but there was no sign that Lagardère was willing to buy out the pubcaster at terms that would be acceptable currently.

Pflimlin said France Télévisions had to develop additional revenue streams more effectively, notably through the sale of content on digital platforms.

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