CNBC, TF1 in talks on money web

Channel should be on air by last quarter of year

PARIS — CNBC and TF1, France’s leading private web, are in “very advanced talks” for CNBC to take a 40% stake in TF1’s planned round-the-clock French financial news channel, chairman and CEO Patrick Le Lay said Thursday.

LCFI, as the web has been dubbed, was announced a year ago along with a number of other theme channels. But its expected launch this spring was put off.

The channel should be on the air by the last quarter of the year, Le Lay said.

The TF1 chief praised CNBC’s “strength and competence in financial news,” which he said were “very important” for TF1 in its bid to provide editorial quality “without spending huge sums of money.”

Thinking globally

He said the deal reflected that in today’s increasingly global economy, “financial news is necessarily international.”

Le Lay spoke at a press conference announcing the TF1 group’s 2000 financial results. A 16.2% hike in ad coin helped profits soar 58% to 250.3 million euros ($232.6 million) on revenues of $2.11 billion, up 22%.

Combined revenues from other activities, such as theme channels, were up 39% to $649.4 million.

Le Lay also singled out the performance of TF1 Intl, whose profits were up 83% to $1.02 million on revenues of $65.77 million (up 83%), due to films like James Ivory’s “The Golden Bowl” and “Under Suspicion.”

Pix solid

TF1 Films Prod., which invests an obligatory 3% of revenues in movie production, also had a good year, with the co-produced “Crimson Rivers,” “Taxi 2,” “Jet Set” and “Most Promising Young Actress” generating in excess of 1 million ticket sales each.

Meanwhile, TF1 Video was France’s No. 1 video distrib last year, toppling Gaumont Buena Vista Intl., with 16.1 million items sold, thanks to sales of “Taxi 2” and the “Pokemon” series.

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