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ARCOM sets tight deadline for French DTT applications

French media regulator ARCOM has given companies until January 23 to submit an application for one of two DTT licences currently held by TF1 and M6. This will then be followed by public hearings in February before the two licences are granted.

Interested parties need to show their hand by January 16 – and then have a week to submit their application. The licences, which take effect from May 26, 2023, will then give the winning parties the right to operate “nationally-oriented television services broadcast terrestrially – free-to-air full-time and in high definition’.

The Authority will assess each application according to a media law passed in 1986. Key criteria include public interest, support for the creative community, and their contribution to the pluralism of information and socio-cultural expression. For the first time, Arcom is also inviting applicants to make commitments in favour of major societal challenges, “namely education in the media, information and digital citizenship, protection of the environment and the fight against climate change.”

The tight timeframe is likely to favour the incumbents – which are widely expected to retain their licences. But it will not be welcomed by French telecom and media entrepreneur Xavier Niel’s NJJ Médias, which recently asked for more time to submit a bid. Niel has been highly-critical of TF1 and M6’s contribution to DTT. During consultation, PayTV operator Canal+ also expressed its views on the subject of DTT.

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