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French TV broadcasters' merger dropped

Sep 19, 2022
Illustration of a television with the French flag on its screen.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Two French private broadcasters have canceled their planned merger following regulatory pressure.

Why it matters: The deal to combine TF1 and M6 was intended to better position the broadcasters to compete with global streaming companies.

Details: Following a meeting of the French competition authority held earlier this month, TF1 owner Bouygues and M6 owner RTL Group said in a joint statement that they would have had "at the very least" to sell either the TF1 TV channel or the M6 TV channel to get approval, which meant the deal no longer had "any strategic rationale."

  • "The parties ... continue to firmly believe that a merger ... would have provided an appropriate response to the challenges resulting from the increased competition from the international platforms," the statement said.

The other side: A key concern was the combined entity's potential outsized control over advertising.

  • The French competition authority said, "[T]he transaction could have created major competitive risks, particularly in the television advertising and television service distribution markets."

What they're saying: "If successful, the deal would have transformed the French TV landscape and redefined competition rules related to the advertising market, creating a precedent in Europe and potentially paving the way for similar deals among traditional broadcasters," Reuters' Geert De Clercq and Mathieu Rosemain wrote.

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