French ad plan to be unveiled

Trautmann hoping to differentiate between public, private b'casters

PARIS — French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin is set to outline his government’s plan today for the future financing of the country’s pubcasters — a plan expected to radically alter the balance of ad revenues between the private and public television broadcasters.

Jospin is expected to unveil a program designed to significantly reduce the number of advertising spots carried by France’s main public service networks, France 2 and France 3.

By cutting back the amount of spots, French culture minister Catherine Trautmann hopes to clearly signal the difference between the strictly commercial webs, such as TF1 and M6 and the public service.

The government allows France’s pubcasters a yearly budget consisting of advertising revenue and license fee payments.

That has left France 2, in particular, caught between the need to keep ratings high in order to grab advertising francs, while also fulfilling its role as a public service broadcaster.

Although it is still not known how many ad spots will be done away with, reports say the reduction of advertising on France 2 and France 3 will free up between $267 million and $357 million in ad coin per year.

Biggest beneficiaries of the changes should be national private webs TF1 and M6, although part of the advertising windfall will also filter down to the print media and radio.

Local television producers could also see an upside. France’s networks must invest a percentage of annual revenues in Gallic production. More ad coin means more investment.

In order to cover the shortfall in revenues, France 2 and France 3 will receive increased public funding. In addition, Jospin is expected to announce that the pubcasters’ budgets will be set for three years at a time, instead of on the current yearly basis. This is expected to allow France 2 and France 3 to make longer-term investment decisions.

The changes in the pubcaster financing will not come into effect immediately. Trautmann presents her plans to fellow ministers in October before they go before parliament in December. Estimates are that they will not come into effect until 2000.

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