France’s TF1 & M6 merger on verge of collapse as regulator eyes competition fears

The planned merger of France’s two biggest broadcasters could fall apart, with the French competition authority raising concerns.

The merger of M6 and TF1 was announced in mid-2021, with the prospective tie-up looking to create a French media group “with the broadest TV, radio, digital, content production and technology offering to the benefit of all viewers and the French audiovisual industry.”

France’s competition watchdog would subsequently launch a review into the deal, followed by an in-depth probe that started in March.

On Tuesday, TF1 and shareholder Bouygues issued a joint statement confirming that the watchdog has raised significant competition concerns, with specific focus on the advertising market. The watchdog would be aware of the fact that the new business would control over 75% of France’s TV advertising.

The pair said that they would not make changes to their original plans, and that they would inform the watchdog of its response within three weeks.

The statement said: “The nature and extent of the remedies required in the report would mean that the merger plans would no longer be meaningful for the parties involved and they would therefore abandon them.”

TF1 chief Gilles Pelisson previously said that any demand from the watchdog for M6 of TF1 to sell either of their flagship channels would be a deal breaker for both parties.

The French competition authority’s board will hold hearings on the matter on September 5-6.

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