The boss of France Télévisions, allied with TF1 and M6 in the Salto streaming platform, showed her support for the merger of her two competitors announced in May 2021. “We need to have healthy private competitors”, declared Delphine Ernotte during a hearing in the Senate. “Because if private offers were to fall apart tomorrow – which is not the case today – the whole television media would fall, and us with it. We must defend the television media in a world where the The media offer continues to expand”, she added, while asking that the operation be accompanied by “safeguards” by the Competition Authority.
For the SACD, which represents authors, “the emergence of a powerful private group capable of offering a free quality offer to viewers and investing in heritage creation is a necessary and urgent response to new digital competition.” The merger proposed by the TF1 group would ensure the maintenance of a strong and competitive audiovisual group with decision-making centers in the creation remaining in France”, added the organization in a press release.
The costly fiasco of TF1 internet takeovers
For the Union des Marques, which represents advertisers, the merger between TF1 and M6 risks limiting competition in the advertising market. During the hearings before the Competition Authority at the beginning of next week, its managing director Jean-Luc Chetrit intends to demonstrate “why the television market is unique and cannot be replaced, neither now nor in the near future”, it is that is, it cannot be replaced or extended without harming advertisers, he told AFP. Mr. Chetrit also considers “not sufficient” the proposal of TF1 and M6 to separate their management for a few years “in terms of the impact that this new player will have on the television market”.
Canal+ will no longer broadcast TF1 group channels
Xavier Niel fiercely opposes the merger
As for the operators, Xavier Niel, the boss of Free (Iliad group), strongly opposed the operation, against which he launched, in vain, several appeals before the Council of State. “There is a colossal financial risk for Iliad, it is an increase in the prices” of advertising, he declared before the Senate commission of inquiry into media concentration at the start of the year. The leader also fears not being able to fight against this new giant in the negotiations to distribute the channels on the telecom boxes. “They will negotiate the cheaper production, you will lower the quality of the production”, finally advanced Mr. Niel, co-founder of the Mediawan group, the first French audiovisual producer in volume.
Arcom, audiovisual policeman, must like the Competition Authority decide on the operation. His decision is expected in November. Its president Roch-Olivier Maistre declared in September 2021 that “the regulator is not there to maintain and preserve the status quo, but to anticipate and support the transformations at work in the media landscape”. He had also judged it “natural” and “understandable” that the players in the French audiovisual landscape “put themselves in working order” to “develop their investment capacity and a kind of cultural sovereignty”, while subsequently defending themselves from everything a priori on the project.
The Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire, who has a “right of evocation” to contest the opinion of the Competition Authority, also considered “legitimate” the project of the two chains during a hearing in the Senate in March. “The key point is: are online advertising and TV advertising one and the same market? At the moment I don’t know,” he said.
The Autorité de la concurrence controlled a record number of mergers in 2021
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