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French authors and producers’ groups slam France 4 closure plan

French minister of culture Franck Riester has confirmed plans to close down France Télévisions youth channel France 4 along with international service France Ô, next year, to the consternation of groups representing creatives in the country.

Franck Riester

Riester’s confirmation of the closure came at the signature of an agreement on plans to ensure France Télévisions’ continued presence in overseas territories and departments following the disappearance of France Ô.

Last week, France Télévisions chief Delphine Ernotte stopped short of confirming outright that France 4 would go, but announced that the pubcaster was launching a new youth-oriented digital offering called Okoo.

Copyright societies the SACD and SPFA, representing authors and producers respectively, immediately condemned the closure of France 4 and the way it had been announced.

The organisations called for a moratorium on the closure, having previously asked for an evaluation of the proposed new digital service 18 months after its launch.

The SACD and SPFA said that the decision to go ahead and close France 4 in line with the government’s initial schedule was part and parcel of a reform process that had been carried out without transparency and consultation and sent a “disastrous” message to authors and producers of animation, as well as to anyone interested in equal access to public service TV.

They said that developing a new digital platform at the same time as closing down a channel that accounted for 70% of France Télévisions’ youth and animation programming, with 4,400 hours of programmes aired eachyear, when linear TV remained the main distribution method in the country’s was “a profound error” that had not been replicated in any other European country.

The pair said that launching a digital platform without the support of a linear channel at a time of increased digital competition was a dangerous mistake and accused the government of neglecting those without access to the web or the means to access digital services.