French broadcasters contest France Télévisions subsidy

French commercial broadcasters TF1, M6 and Canal Plus have lodged a complaint at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg about the French state’s allocation of €450m to compensate public broadcaster France Télévisions for the removal of advertising on its channels in peak viewing hours, according to French press reports.

In their complaint, which was filed without publicity a few months ago, the commercial channels allege that the European Commission gave a green light to the additional subsidy on the basis of insufficient knowledge of the facts, and say that the latter should have launched a full enquiry and listened to the arguments made by the pubcaster’s competitors. They also point out that that the €450m allocated by the government was greater than the amount lost by France Télévisions as a result of the ad ban.

TF1, M6 and Canal Plus had previously unsuccessfully contested the allocation of €150m from the 2008 budget to help France Télévisions. However, the EC has declared illegal France’s proposed tax on telecom providers of 0.9% of their revenues to support the public broadcaster.