French pubcaster gets coin boost

2002 budget up $73 million

PARIS — France’s public broadcasting budget has been fixed at 21.3 billion francs ($2.97 billion) for 2002, an increase of $73 million, up 3.45% from this year, Culture Minister Catherine Tasca announced Wednesday.

French spending on public broadcasting has increased by 35% since 1997, Tasca said. But TV viewers also are going to have to shell out more — the TV license is going up by 1.7% to $106.5.

At a broadcasting conference in Hourtin in southwest France, Tasca hit out at the country’s reality fever, sparked by the popularity of M6’s “Big Brother”-style “Loft Story.”

Leading web TF1 is screening a version of “Survivor” and both TF1 and M6 have other reality skeins planned for their fall schedules.

Lambasting “TV’s commercial if not mercantile approach,” the minister appealed to French broadcasters not to come up with “sterile” copycat projects when they submit their bids for digital terrestrial broadcasting licenses. The digital technology is due to come into service by the end of 2002.

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