Jean Drucker, founding father of the successful Gallic web M6, died of a heart attack Friday 18 April. He was 61.
One of the French TV community’s more discreet players, Drucker was also one of its most respected, having launched a low budget youth channel in 1987 and transformed it into a burgeoning general interest web with a 12% market share.
That success was all the more noteworthy given the early bankruptcy of La 5, a much more ambitious rival owned by Silvio Berlusconi and France’s Lagardere Group, which launched at the same time.
Drucker handed over the operational reins of M6 to Nicolas de Tavernost in 2000 but continued to mastermind the TV group’s strategy as chairman of its supervisory board, pushing for the launch of France’s first ever reality show, the ratings beating “Loft Story,” and for the development of non-core businesses including its stake in France’s second satellite platform TPS.
A graduate of France’s elite Ecole National d’Administration, the Normandy-born Drucker came to television in 1970, joining the ORTF, the old French state broadcasting monopoly, before climbing the ladder in a series of public and private broadcasting posts until CLT, now the RTL Group, hired him to launch M6.
Drucker’s own career as a behind-the-scenes man was in marked contrast to that of his younger brother, the TV personality Michel Drucker, who is a household name in France.
Jean Drucker is survived by two children.