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Altice’s NextRadioTV joins retransmission fee battle

Altice-owned broadcast outfit NextRadioTV is planning to follow in the footsteps of commercial broadcaster TF1 and demand payment from service providers for the carriage of its TV channels, starting with Free.

Maxime Lombardini, CEO of Free’s parent Iliad Telecom, said that the company had received a letter “that resembles the one we received from TF1” on the occasion of the company’s financial results this week, according to BFMTV, one of the channels owned by NextRadioTV.

Lombardini expressed his shock that the company was being asked to pay for channels that are available free-to-view elsewhere. He said that NextRadioTV had demanded payment for BFMTV, RMC Découverte and Numéro 23.

Lombardini called on the government and regulators to take a stand, and argued that changes should be made to the law to forbid channels available free on digital-terrestrial TV from demanding payment from operators.

Altice – which competes head-to-head with Free in the telecom market – was one of the first operators to sign up to a deal with TF1, which has been in conflict with other operators including Free over its demand for retransmission fees.

Iliad this week posted solid results on the back of continued strength in mobile and fixed broadband, but saw its share price hit by reduced profits from fixed telephony.

The company posted revenues of €4.988 billion for the year, up from €4.722 billion, and EBITDA of €1.777 billion, up from €1.676 billion. While profitability in mobile increased significantly, EBITDA from the fixed business was negatively affected by a rise in unbundling fees, costs associated with Free’s fibre rollouts, costs associated with the enhancement of its TV offering by the addition of the TV by Canal Panorama offering, and by promotional discounts.

Separately, Altice has announced that it is in exclusive talks with Paris-based carrier services group Tofane Global about the sale of its international wholesale voice carrier business in France, Portugal and the Dominican Republic. The move is the latest in a series of disposals by Altice as it seeks to shore up investor confidence after sharp falls in its share price late last year.