BFM TV takes on CanalSat over set-top settings

The president of French information channel BFM TV, owned by NextRadioTV, has accused pay-TV provider CanalSat of directing its subscribers by default to its own information channel, i-Télé, therefore depriving BFM TV of viewers.

Alan Weill said he would complain to the French competition regulator as well as the Tribunal de Commerce and audiovisual media regulator the CSA about what he saw as CanalSat’s attempt to manipulate audience measurement statistics by changing the default setting on its set-top boxes so that they tuned in automatically to i-Tele after being switched off and switched on again.

Weill said that the move would adversely affect BFM TV’s ratings as CanalSat accounted for 20% of the audience panel of French audience ratings agency Mediametrie. BFM TV has also complained to Mediametrie, which has said it will recalculate audience figures for November.

CanalSat has expressed astonishment at the tone of BFM TV’s pronouncements. The pay-TV provider said it regularly implemented trial marketing campaigns of this type for limited periods and said that the move only affected the relatively small number of satellite subscribers that switched off their set-top boxes. It did not apply to ADSL, cable or digital-terrestrial subscribers, it said.

CanalSat also pointed out that Weill’s complaint coincided with the CSA being on the verge of coming to a decision on a previous complaint by the broadcaster.