TF1-M6: the marriage between the two audiovisual groups is canceled

The marriage will not take place in the end: TF1 and M6 announced on Friday the abandonment of their merger project, judging that it did not present “no more industrial logic“, a twist after months of uncertainty.

The union between the first and the third channel of the French audiovisual landscape could have brought about a juggernaut, surpassing France TV, with more than 30% of audience share and representing three quarters of the television advertising market.

But because of the concessions demanded by the Competition Authority, in particular the sale of the TF1 channel or the M6 ​​channel, the four parties involved have decided to put an end to the project.

Bouygues, RTL Group, TF1 and the M6 ​​group estimated that since “only structural remedies concerning at least the sale of the TF1 channel or the M6 ​​channel would be such as to allow the authorization of the operation, […] the project no longer presented any industrial logic“.

The Competition Authority declared on its website to have taken note of the announcement “by Bouygues to withdraw its plan to acquire exclusive control of the Métropole Télévision group“, which puts an end to the procedure initiated before the Autorité.

This body had conducted two days of hearings of the parties interested in the merger, behind closed doors at the beginning of September, and was to render its decision in mid-October. Its instruction services had, during the hearings, reiterated their position of the end of July, which was rather unfavorable.

The audiovisual policeman, Arcom, for its part validated in early September the acquisition by the operator Altice of the TFX and M6 Generation (6ter) channels, from which the TF1 and M6 groups wanted to separate in order to be able to merge. This redemption was conditional on their marriage.

The platform challenge

Since its announcement in May 2021, the project has divided economic players. Some supported the union in the face of American competition and in particular streaming players (Netflix, Disney, Amazon or even YouTube and Tiktok).

The success of Netlix, which, like its counterpart Disney +, plans to launch a cheaper offer financed by advertising this year, served in particular as justification for the operation.

Others, like the Union des Marques, which represents advertisers, were worried about the influence of a TV behemoth; the merger between TF1 and M6 risking, according to them, to limit competition on the advertising market.

The parties deplore that the Competition Authority did not take into account the extent and speed of the changes in the French audiovisual sector“, explained the four entities in their press release on Friday.

They remain convinced that the merger of the TF1 and M6 groups would have been an appropriate response to the challenges arising from the accelerated competition with international platforms.“, they added.

A few hours before the announcement of this decision, Thomas Valentin, vice-president of the management board of M6, had estimated that whatever the verdict of the Authority was going to be, “the market (was) going to have to adapt“to find solutions for”better amortize the costs, rights” in order to “to be able to put in more money per program“.

We’re in an ultra-competitive market, it’s as if 20 years ago ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox had landed in France with all the American programs in French and French programs, that’s kind of what is happening today with the platforms and with incredible speed“, he defended during the great traditional debate of the La Rochelle fiction festival, which brought together big bosses and main players in the sector.

Added to this is a steady decline in the viewing time of terrestrial television, especially among those under 50, he explained.

The boss of France Télévisions, allied with TF1 and M6 in the Salto streaming platform, had shown her support for the merger of her two competitors. “We need to have healthy private competitors“, said Delphine Ernotte during a hearing in the Senate.

Because if tomorrow private offers disintegrate – which is not the case today – the whole TV media would fall, and us with it“, she had hammered.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.