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Canal Plus chief calls for halt to tax plan

Pay-TV operator Canal Plus’s CEO Bertrand Meheut has called for a moratorium on the French government’s planned tax on commercial channels to compensate public broadcaster France Télévisions for the loss of advertising on its channels.

In an interview with newspaper Le Figaro, Meheut called for implementation of the tax to be put on hold until the end of 2011, when advertising on the public channels, currently banned after 20.00, is due to end completely, coinciding with the completion of France’s digital switchover plan.

Meheut said that the proposed tax of 1.5% of the revenues of TF1 and M6, and 3% of Canal Plus, was unacceptable in view of the global decline of the TV advertising market. He said the move would accelerate the decline in investment in content creation, and pointed to the fact that France Télévisions had so far only lost €215m as a result of the partial ad ban, far short of the €415m calculated by the government.

The French association of commercial channels, the ACP, of which Meheut is president, issued a statement expressing astonishment at the level of compensation allocated to France Télévisions, particularly in light of the fact that the impact of the partial (hitherto) advertising ban on the public broadcaster’s finances has been less than expected. On the contrary, the ACP, said, private channels had not benefited from the change in the law, and had suffered a fall in revenue from advertising since the ban.