France Télévisions director-general Delphine Ernotte used an appearance at the Series Mania event in Lille yesterday to express her frustration at regulatory delays that have prevented France’s main broadcasters from making progress with their joint streaming project.
Ernotte was speaking after the European Commission, which had been examining the Salto project, the SVOD JV between France Télévisions, TF1 and M6, finally referred it back to the French competition watchdog, the Autorité de la Concurrence.
“In agreement with the undertakings involved, the European Commission considered that the French Autorité de la concurrence was best placed to examine this transaction, particularly in view of its impact on the national market and the Autorité’s experience in this sector. The parties will therefore have to notify their transaction to the Autorité, which is now competent to examine it,” the regulator said in a statement.
Ernotte said it was “totally absurd” that the project had been held up for six months while European regulators decided that it was not for them to make a judgement on the case.
She said that Netflix had gained an additional million subscribers while Salto was in regulatory limbo.
Drawing an automotive analogy, Ernotte said it was as if French cars were obliged to remain stationary in a car park while the rest of the world got on with the task of building a high-speed motorway.
Ernotte also addressed France Télévisions’ commitment to French series, highlighting a forthcoming adaptation of Michel Houllebecq’s Les Particules Élémentaires (Atomised) that will be distributed on the pubcaster’s digital platform rather than on linear TV.
Ernotte said that the subject matter meant that the series was “not for everyone” and that it made sense to distribute it digitally, as the pubcaster did previously with an adaptation of cult Norwegian teen drama Skam.
France Télévisions has committed to invest €50 million in digital projects overall, despite well-publicised budgetary constraints facing the broadcaster.
The pubcaster has also announced a number of projects within the framework of a production partnership with German pubcaster ZDF and Italy’s Rai, including an adaptation of Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days.