Culture Minister Rima Abdul Malak has asked the Canal+ group to restore the broadcasting of TF1 channels on its TNT Sat offer, which allows DTT channels to be received in areas where terrestrial coverage is poor.
“I appeal to your sense of responsibility and the general interest to avoid depriving hundreds of thousands of households of the reception of all DTT channels”, urges Rima Abdul Malak in a letter sent Friday to the president of the executive board of Canal + Maxime Saada, whom AFP was able to consult, confirming information from the Parisian.
This ministerial request is made after Canal+’s decision to stop broadcasting the free channels of the TF1 group (TF1, TMC, TFX, TF1 Séries Films and LCI) when renewing the distribution contract between the two parties, due in particular to the requirement of a payment “of a very substantial remuneration”, announced Friday the group owned by Vivendi.
“Without interfering in the commercial dispute between the two groups and a negotiation which is a matter of freedom of contract”, the minister explains that she is “attentive that the negotiations between publishers and distributors do not lead to blockages likely to compromise access of all audiences to the free offer of digital terrestrial television” (DTT).
However, “cutting off the signal from the TF1 group’s channels on the TNT Sat offer deprives people who can only receive DTT by satellite of any access to the five free channels of the TF1 group”, underlines Rima Abdul Malak.
And “this situation is not in accordance with the intention of the legislator, which was to guarantee full coverage of the territory by DTT by obliging the DTT channels to make their signal available free of charge to a satellite distributor who makes it the ask,” she recalls.
In an interview with the Journal du Dimanche (JDD), Maxime Saada reaffirms for his part that “the free DTT channels – such as those of the TF1 group – are free for the entire public and must remain so”.
“Canal+ broadcasts more than 150 channels in France, including all the other DTT channels without exception. We do not encounter these difficulties with the other DTT players, including the M6 group”, he says.
“The TF1 group has a feeling of omnipotence because of its dominant position, even before a possible merger” with M6, he adds.
Is Canal+’s decision linked to the hearings scheduled for Monday and Tuesday before the Competition Authority for the proposed merger between M6 and TF1? The president of the executive board of Canal + assures that “it is a pure coincidence of the calendar”.
“The contract signed with the TF1 group in 2018 ended on August 31, 2022. However, in 2018, this merger project did not exist. At the time, we requested a longer contract period, which was refused by TF1” he details.
At the time, the commercial negotiations between the two audiovisual groups around the distribution of the free channels of the TF1 group had generated this same blocking situation.
The cut in the signal from TF1 channels then caused an outcry among some viewers and led the Minister of Culture at the time, Françoise Nyssen, to summon Canal+ to restore the broadcasting of TF1 channels on the TNT Sat offer.