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Conseil d’État confirms Altice France was wrong to air Champions League final on BFMTV

France’s Conseil d’État has confirmed that Altice France-owned BFMTV broke the terms of its convention with media regulator the CSA by airing the final of the UEFA Champions League last year.

The CSA has told Altice that BFMTV, as a news channel, was not authorised to air the match in the clear and censured the company for going ahead against its instructions. BFMTV appealed the ruling but the Conseil d’Etat has now found against it.

Altice France had decided to air the match on the channel alongside broadcasting it on pay TV service RMC Sport because under French rules the final had to be broadcast free-to-air.

BFMTV’s broadcast of the match in June attracted an audience of 2.5 million, or 14.3% of the overall audience, putting it in third place nationally for the evening.

BFMTV told French newspaper Le Monde at the time that it was not seeking a confrontation with the regulator but that its interpretation of its convention differed slightly from that of the CSA.

Altice France holds the rights to the Champions League until 2021, with most matches being aired exclusively on pay TV service RMC Sport.

The group also aired the 2019 final of the Europa League, which it was also obliged to distribute free-to-air, on its RMC Story channel.

Altice France CEO Alain Weill said at the time that BFMTV’s convention allowed it to air events of major importance and pointed out that TF1-owned news channel had previously aired a France-Australia match on a time-shifted basis during the previous year’s World Cup.

From 2022, the final will be aired on the national TF1 channel.