French government abandons bonus channels plan

The French government has abandoned plans to award so-called bonus channels on the digital-terrestrial platform to the country’s commercial broadcasters as part of its plan that will see six new HD channels launch on the platform.

Under plans confirmed yesterday, media regulator the CSA will launch a tender for candidates to launch new channels on the platform. Given the opinion of the European Commission that the bonus channels (which would have seen TF1, M6 and Canal Plus awarded channels after digital switchover in November this year) were contrary to EU rules, French prime minister François Fillon has decided to abandon the plan to award the channels and present fresh legislation within the next two months.

As the six new services on the platform will be transmitted via the existing DVB-T standard, less efficient in terms of spectrum usage than the DVB-T2 standard recommended by CSA chief Michel Boyon in his recent report on the future of the platform, there would be insufficient spectrum available in any case for both the bonus channels and the new services.

The candidates for the new services will be chosen by the end of March 2012, with the launch of the channels planned for next September.