France Télévisions’ documentary chief Catherine Alvaresse exits, as producer concerns rise

Catherine Alvaresse

France Télévisions’ Catherine Alvaresse has stepped down as director of documentaries, with the move prompting concern from producers over what it means for the public broadcaster’s doc strategy.

Alvaresse, who has headed France Télévisions docs output since 2019, left her position at the start of the month because of disagreements over the editorial line, according to French TV title Telerama.

French producer unions have reportedly written to France Télévisions’ management asking if Alvaresse’s departure means a change of editorial orientation and if they should be concerned by the continuation of projects in development.

Producers have been aware of internal battles, one insider told TBI, and there are worries now that France Télévisions wants to go for lighter and more “entertaining” documentaries.

Such a move would be another blow for documentarians, who have already witnessed an increasing amount of France Télévisions’ documentary budget being spent on ‘hosted-magazine’ shows, rather than harder-hitting shows.

Producers are also concerned around Alvaresse’s replacement, with fears it could be someone with no documentary experience.

Alvaresse is well regarded among doc makers in Freance and around the world. Prior to her most recent role at France TV, the exec was head of documentaries & cultural shows at France 2, having spent five years as deputy director of specialist factual at ARTE France until 2016.

She has also previously worked as deputy MD at Europe Images International and director of international co-pro’s for Boreales.

Alvaresse’s dismissal came after France Télévisions was awarded the prestigious Albert Londres Prize for Wagner Putin’s Army, and an International Emmy for Enfants De Daech, Les Damnés D La Guerre (aka Iraq’s Lost Generation).

France Télévisions did not respond to TBI’s request for comment.

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