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Former TF1 chief Patrick Le Lay dies aged 77

Patrick Le Lay, the long-serving former CEO of French commercial broadcaster TF1, has died aged 77 after an illness.

Le Lay joined TF1 parent Bouygues Group in 1981 on its acquisition of Dodin, where he was deputy CEO. He was responsible for Bouygues’ diversification strategy, ultimately leading to him preparing the groundwork for the privatisation of TF1 in 1987, following which he served successively as VP and CEO of the broadcaster.

His time in charge of TF1 included the signing of an exclusive contract with Endemol for rights to reality TV shows in 2001. He also oversaw the launch of news channel LCI and, as a fiercely proud native of Brittany, the creation of Breton channel TV Breizh.

In 2007, Le Lay was replaced as TF1 chief executive by Nonce Paolini and took on the role of president of the broadcaster’s administrative board, before leaving that post, again in favour of Paolini, a year later. Le Lay later served as head of the Serendipity investment fund, which was partly backed by Bouygues.

“Patrick Le Lay has been a visionary for the world of modern television, a great leader of enterprise and an audacious entrepreneur who knew how to create the solid foundations of a commercial television group, on which we continue to build today. All my thoughts are with his family and loved ones,” said Gilles  Pélission, current CEO of TF1 Group.