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French TV group objects to digital mandate

New law limits operator ownership to 49%

PARIS — France’s TV watchdog body, the Conseil superieur de l’audiovisuel (CSA), has come out against a French law that limits to 49% the share an operator can have in a TV station, after it changes over to digital.

“We are not in agreement with the law,” CSA head Herve Bourges said.

Under the law, a station such as commercial broadcaster TF1 would have to sell 51% of its shares in its news channel, once it moves to digital, in order to comply. Canal Plus faces the same problem with its television.

The CSA will publish an initial list of digital frequencies by the first half of next year. Programs could be up and running by the end of 2002, said the CSA, whose goal is for 70% of the population to have access to digital TV by that date.

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