end of the auditions, the marriage remains threatened

The proposed merger between TF1 and M6 took a decisive step on Tuesday with the end of the hearings of the parties by the Competition Authority but, according to several sources, the concessions to authorize the operation could be much greater than expected.

In order to be celebrated at the beginning of 2023, the marriage must absolutely be accepted by the college of this institution made up of specialists in competition law and representatives of the economic world. He will decide in mid-October.

According to a source familiar with the matter, the two television groups did not arrive in conquered territory on Monday.

The Authority’s investigation services first reiterated their position at the end of July, when submitting their conclusions to the college: it is rather unfavorable and without “real change”, despite the concessions since offered by the chains. , judged this source.

The Bouygues group (owner of TF1) is notably offered to resell the M6 ​​channel: an unacceptable “remedy”, while the two companies wish to join forces to better resist competition from streaming players (Netflix, Disney, Amazon or even Youtube and Tiktok).

Netflix, which wants to launch a cheaper offer financed by advertising this year, could quickly become the 4th French TV network, with 200 million euros in annual revenue, according to a study published on Tuesday by the firm NPA Conseil on the basis of information from the American press.

The resale of M6 also has the support of some opponents of the merger project, who could position themselves to buy the channel.

Several media magnates had tried in early 2021 to buy from the RTL group (controlled by the German Bertelsmann), including Vincent Bolloré (via Vivendi), Xavier Niel and the Czech entrepreneur Daniel Kretinsky. The interest of Mediaset, controlled by Silvio Berlusconi, is also mentioned.

The Bouygues group, represented by its president Martin Bouygues and its general manager Olivier Roussat, as well as the CEO of TF1 Gilles Pélisson, were interviewed at length on Tuesday.

Their arguments were mainly addressed to members of the college from the private sphere, including representatives of Plastic Omnium, Eutelsat, Tikehau Capital or Atos, potentially more inclined to pragmatism than to strict compliance with competition rules.

The marriage of the first and third channels of the French audiovisual landscape would create a juggernaut, overtaking France TV with more than 30% of audience share and representing three-quarters of the television advertising market.

The government will ultimately have the possibility of overriding a refusal by the Authority, if it justifies its decision on grounds of general interest.


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