Orange ups stakes in retrans dispute with TF1

Orange_logoOrange has filed a legal complaint against leading French commercial broadcaster TF1 over the ongoing retransmission fees dispute between the pair with the Tribunal de Commerce, according to business title Les Echos.

According to the paper, citing an unnamed source, Orange is contesting that TF1 is abusing its dominant position in television to attempt to force an agreement on the telco that is contrary to the law.

In April, TF1 warned telecom operators and pay TV operator Canal+ that it would pull its signal from their services unless they agree to pay retransmission fees. In addition to a threat to pull its digital services and flagship channel from multiscreen distribution, TF1 threatened to cut the signal delivered via the IPTV set-tops of certain operators, including Orange, this summer.

Orange CEO Stéphane Richard subsequently compared hat TF1 was demanding to a kind of “private tax” and pointed out that Orange generated 25% of the broadcaster’s audience.

Orange had earlier reportedly indicated that might be willing to pay for some new digital services such as startover and for NDVR rights, but not for the main channel. However, according to Les Echos, not agreement has been struck and the pair are now involved in a legal dispute.

Orange is likely to base its case on the must-carry status of TF1, contending that it has no choice but to carry the channel and should not therefore be obliged to pay for it.

TF1 on the other hand argues that must-carry status only applies to channels that do not charge for carriage, and that it could pull its channel from telecom operators’ TV services.

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