TF1 and M6 want to say yes, but not at any cost

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Paris (AFP) – The TF1/M6 marriage will not be at any cost: the head of France’s first audiovisual group reiterated on Thursday his desire to marry his rival, but only if the concessions requested by the competition authority were not so important.

The two groups revealed on Tuesday that the first report – not public – from the institution responsible for balancing competition in France said it was unfavorable to their union.

Thus, the “dream we shared” of a French audiovisual champion “is not necessarily being shared at this point by analyzing the (instruction) services of the competition authority,” TF1 CEO Gilles Bellison summed up in the sidelines of the group’s results publication.

“Before the dream turns into a nightmare, there should be a moment of reflection, waking up and thinking maybe my dream will end there,” he added.

If the “remedies” required by the report in the face of “identified critical competition problems,” particularly in television advertising, were “placed,” the project would lose “all its relevance,” and “the parties will not hesitate to (( the) arrest,” insisted Mr. Pélisson.

Between them, the TF1, owned by Bouygues, and the M6 ​​(for sale by German Bertelsmann, shareholder in RTL Group) account for about 75% of French advertising sales.

Both groups are asking the authority to consider this market share taking into account competition from digital platforms “which are getting closer and closer to the TV model” according to Jill Bilson, as evidenced by the arrival of the next commercial on Netflix.

They will be able to repeat their arguments during the hearings on September 5 and 6 before the competition authority, which will decide in October and it is not required to follow the opinion of the investigative services.

If necessary, the intervention of the Minister of Economy is possible to “override” the opinion of the authority, “for reasons of public interest,” as Bruno Le Maire stated in March before the Senate.

Thus, in 2018, the Minister used his “power to invoke”, during Cofigeo’s acquisition of William Saurin, in order to “maintain employment”.

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Meanwhile, the CEO of TF1 is pleased with the “satisfactory” results of the group, which reported a profit of 126.5 million euros in the first half, an increase of 16.7% over one year, against a turnover of close to 1.2 billion euros (+5.2%).

Include approximately €7 million in exceptional fees related to the integration project.

Advertising revenue rose moderately (+1.6%) to €815.5m, a slight drop seen in the second quarter – without the men’s European Championship that benefited the group last year – as it was offset by the first “good dynamics”, according to TF1 .

Despite the decline in audiences, TF1 remains “largely in the lead in terms of its business goals” as women under 50 (33.5% of PDAs), says Jill Bellison, recalling the massive success of the HPI series.

Inflation and conflict in Ukraine did not “significantly affect the results of the group” betting on the World Cup in Qatar in the second half.

Its subsidiary Newen Studios will also introduce two “significant” series to Canal + (“Marie-Antoinette”) and Apple TV + (“Liaison”, the platform’s first French and English original production, with Vincent Cassel and Eva Green).

TF1 has also settled its digital diversification operations in recent weeks, with sales of its Unify division (Marmiton, Doctissimo, Aufeminin, etc.) – and its sale to Reworld Media effective in the second half of the year – and international marketing agency influence Ykone worth €124 million. At a minimum, according to the press release. TF1 has also sold its digital advertising subsidiary Gamned! for nearly 50 million euros, according to an offer made by the group.

For its part, the M6 ​​Group presented mixed results on Tuesday, as the trading value increased by 3% compared to the first half of 2021, to reach 664 million euros, but the net profit fell by 22.4%, to 92.5 million euros.

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