Pathe, Reservoir in digital channel bid

Rough transition for the switch expected

PARIS — Pathe is bidding to run one of France’s first digital terrestrial TV networks, a spokesman said Wednesday.

The French major has struck a deal with the production company Reservoir Prods. to jointly bid for a license when France switches to digital terrestrial TV in 2002.

Contenders for 36 available channels will be invited to lodge their bids next summer. However, the transition is expected to be far from smooth.

Legal obstacle

While French broadcasters are queuing up for the licenses, they are faced with a major obstacle: an article of French broadcasting law that prohibits a single company from owning more than 49% of a terrestrial network. The rule effects most existing theme channels unless the TV companies that own them are prepared to give up control of them.

As well as producing feature films and TV programs, Pathe already owns the theme channels Comedie, Pathe Sport and Voyage.

Reservoir, headed by TV presenter Jean Luc de la Rue, makes documentaries, talkshows and audience debate shows for all of France’s major networks.

The free channel being developed by the two companies will offer a mix of talkshows and documentaries and will be financed by advertising.

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