TF1 pulls services from SFR in major escalation of retrans dispute

facade_campus_sfr_maxime_dufour__photographies_3TF1 has withdrawn its catch-up TV service MYTF1 from distribution by Numericable-SFR and has demanded that the service provider stops retransmitting its free-to-air channels, including its flagship channel.

TF1, the leading French commercial broadcaster, has been in a battle with the country’s TV operators over its demand that they pay retransmission fees, and has been threatening to pull its services for months. Following the termination of its contract with SFR on Saturday, the group has now said that the operator is no longer authorised to redistribute MYTF1 and the free channels.

The broadcaster said it would no longer supply the catch-up service and demanded that SFR stop retransmitting TF1, TMC, NT1, HD1 and LCI.

SFR for its part said that it had only found out about what it described as an “iniquitous attempt to take our customers hostage” in the press. The operator informed its subscribers that MYTF1 was still available to its customers via computer, mobile devices and on TV via OTT.

The operator said that the cutting of MYTF1 to its customers was prejudicial and “of questionable legality”, and said it was studying all options, including taking any necessary legal action.

TF1 said that since SFR was still redistributing the services outside its contract, it would use “all legal means at its disposal” to defend its rights.

TF1 informed SFR last March that it wanted to change the conditions for the redistribution of its channels and MYTF1. Its contract with the operator ended in December, but the broadcaster agreed to extend it to July 28. However, said the broadcaster, in April Numericable-SFR terminated discussions and turned to media regulator the CSA to adjudicate.

SFR said it was “astonished” that the broadcaster had chosen not to wait on the result of the CSA’s deliberations.

The operator said that TF1 had been distributed to its customers since the company was created and that the broadcaster was only now seeking remuneration after 30 years. It noted that the group had a 40%-plus share of the advertising market and had at its disposal a free terrestrial broadcasting licence.

TF1 warned France’s TV operators in April that it intended to pull the plug on distributing its services via their platforms unless the agreed to recompense it.

Earlier this month, Orange filed a complaint with the Tribunal de Commerce over the dispute, arguing that TF1 was abusing its position.

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