TF1 and M6 ‘ready to make further concessions’

French broadcasters TF1 and M6 are ready to make further concessions to try to secure a regulatory green light for their planned merger, according to local press reports.

According to financial daily Les Echos, the pair are ready to go further than the concessions they outlined earlier this month in an attempt to secure the approval of a sceptical competition watchdog.

The August concessions included a promise to keep their advertising businesses separate for three years after their merger in an attempt to secure regulatory approval of the fusion

The two broadcasters also reportedly offered to keep their radio advertising businesses separate, to limit the distribution of French films on the combined companies’ channels and to extend by one year their distribution agreements with service providers such as Canal+, Orange, Free and SFR, among other concessions.

The move came after the Autorité de la Concurrence raised concerns about the impact of the merger in July. TF1 and M6 together will have an estimated 75% share of the French TV advertising market.

According to Les Echos, the pair are now ready to go further by offering to keep their advertising businesses separate for longer – potentially up to five years rather than three.

They are also ready to extend the separation of the businesses to cover digital channels such as TMC, TF1 Séries Films and Gulli as well as the flagship TF1 and M6 national channels.

Furthermore, TF1 and M6 are prepared to separate the advertising businesses associated with non-linear as well as linear services, meaning that sales for catch-up and on-demand services will be separate.

Other concessions could include the termination of TF1’s sales contract with Indé Radio and additional commitments to editorial independence, according to the paper.

The two broadcasters’ owners would not, however, be prepared to envisage the sale of one of the major channels to secure approval. This, in their view, would invalidate the rationale for the merger in the first place.

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