France Televisions unveils new look

Broadcaster scales back U.S. programming

Gallic pubcaster France Televisions has finally taken the wraps off its 2009 sked, sans evening commercials, after it lost a scrap with the government over a decision to phase out advertising.

The new-look FT isn’t particularly good news for U.S. program suppliers. Though “Without a Trace” has proved a ratings mainstays for the web, U.S. series make no running at all in FT prexy Patrick de Coulis’ main sked announcements, kicking in Jan. 5.

That’s little surprise, after prime minister Francois Fillon slammed FT for airing too many U.S. series.

FT lost its WBITV program deal to TF1 from this year.

According to De Coulis, FT won’t nix U.S. series entirely. But, while many fiscally pressured Eurocasters are mulling hiking acquisitions, FT certainly doesn’t look set to go on a U.S. spending spree.

FT channel France 2 will air gameshow “Password” on Saturday evenings. But Albanel said FT, unlike Blighty’s BBC, would not air hardcore reality shows.

Instead, FT’s plowing into culture: a classic auteur movie slot is being introduced on Tuesdays, the latenight culture show “The Words of Midnight” is being moving forward, and European magazine “Europe Avenue” is to be extended.

This follows complaints by President Nicolas Sarkozy that there was too little coverage of European subjects on the web.

“The question is how cultural FT will become or whether there will still be openings, as in the past, for more commercial fare,” said Bertrand Villegas, at Paris-based research company The Wit.

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