French TF1 and M6 stick to planned merger despite unfavourable report

French TF1 and M6 stick to planned merger despite unfavourable report

The French Competition Authority has come out against the proposed merger between TF1 and M6, that would create a French television giant.

An initial report issued by the Authority’s investigation services is “not favorable” to the merger, M6 head Nicolas de Tavernost announced on Tuesday on the sidelines of the publication of the results of his group.

However, the TV channels intend to “maintain the project as it was presented” and respond to the Authority within three weeks, said de Tavernost, who chairs the M6 board of directors and is slated to be the CEO of the new company.

The report points in particular to “significant competition problems” in television advertising, de Tavernost said. He added that the measures envisaged to remedy them “would not make it possible to build a coherent industrial project” and would lead the channels to give up their project.

The parties concerned will be heard by the college of the Competition Authority on 5-6 September, the Bouygues groups, TF1’s largest shareholder, and RTL, which owns M6, said in press releases.

The final decision, expected in October, will be up to the college, which is not required to follow the advice of the investigation services.

A merger of TF1 and M6 would create a French giant in the market for audiovisual rights, channel distribution and television advertising, with around 75% of French turnover in the latter sector.

Announced in May 2021, this project is supposed to be finalised by early 2023. Before that can happen, it needs to receive the approval of France’s higher audiovisual council, Arcom, scheduled for November.

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