France completes switchover, abolishes bonus channels

France has completed its digital switchover with the end of analogue broadcasts in the Languedoc-Roussillon region.

The country began switching off analogue transmission at the beginning of last year and has now completed the process at an under-budget cost of €150 million. The digital-terrestrial TV platform, which was launched in 2005, now reaches 97% of the population.

Media regulator the CSA is now expected to fast-track the process of selecting and licensing candidates to launch six new channels on the platform, with candidates expected to be chosen by March 15 and authorisations granted by May. The channels are expected to be available to only about 25% of French homes initially.

Attending the switchover in Montpellier, CSA president Michel Boyon said that the choice would be determined by “the innovation and creativity of the candidates”.

Separately, the French cabinet is examining a new law to withdraw the award of so-called bonus channels to national broadcasters Canal Plus, TF1 and M6 as compensation for the costs of transferring to digital broadcasting. The move follows an opinion from the European Commission at the end of September that the bonus channels scheme ran contrary to European law.

Tags: France