Canal Plus partially restores TF1 channels after government pressure
Canal Plus, the French pay-television broadcaster, has restored access to five free-to-air channels of commercial broadcaster TF1, albeit not to all of its customers.
The Vivendi-owned broadcaster last night re-established the signal last night for those viewers watching via TNT Sat, the satellite service for households with a poor digital terrestrial signal, and CanalSat, the pay-TV broadcaster’s satellite platform.
The move came following the intervention of the CSA, the French broadcast regulator, and Françoise Nyssen, France’s minister of culture.
Canal Plus recently suspended the distribution of the TF1 channels over what it claimed were “unreasonable and unfounded financial requirements” being demanded.
There are around 1.5 million French households equipped with TNT Sat, chiefly in rural and mountainous regions, and 2.2 million households signed up to CanalSat.
The carriage distribution row has not yet been settled, however, and there continues to be a blackout in place for the estimated 2.1 million customers who subscribe to Canal Plus directly, and receive their set-top box via telecoms operators.
France’s minister of culture wrote in a press release: “The cutting off of the signal of the TF1 channels by Canal+ for people who only have the TNT Sat service is totally contrary to the principle of full coverage for the population.”
TF1 claimed that it was “unacceptable” that Canal Plus had “cut off this service to millions of French people who had nothing to do with our dispute.”
The commercial broadcaster insisted that it does not demand payment for access to the TF1 channels’ signal on TNT Sat.
It has been reported that TF1 has demanded €20 million ($24.6 million) a year from Canal Plus in negotiations, although Gilles Pélisson, the broadcaster’s chief executive, told Le Parisien this week that the figure is lower than that.
The channels involved in the dispute are: TF1; TMC; TFX; TF1 Séries Films; and LCI.
Top sports rights held by TF1 include four races from motor racing's Formula 1, the Fifa World Cup and France's home qualifying games for major tournaments (shared with commercial rival M6).