Gallic gov’t balks at France TV plan

Observers fear it could cost more than estimated

PARIS — French pubcaster France Television may have to scale down ambitious plans for a raft of new channels when the country switches to digital terrestrial TV next year.

With only months to go before the broadcasting authority, the Conseil Superieur de l’Audiovisuel (CSA), invites bids for 36 new channels, the government is balking over funding a project that some fear is unviable. France Television chief Marc Tessier has asked for 1.5 billion francs ($212.6 million) over five years to fund six new channels. The proposal is championed by culture minister Catherine Tasca, a staunch advocate of public broadcasting.

But the Finance Ministry is less enthusiastic about the plan, which observers believe could cost more than Tessier’s estimations. Finance Minister Laurent Fabius came face to face with Tasca in a meeting with Prime Minister Lionel Jospin last Friday.

Officials refused to comment on the meeting, but French daily La Tribune reported that the pubcaster has been asked to come up with a less- ambitious plan. A funding decision was due two months ago.

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