Broadcaster feels squeeze of economy

PARIS — Gallic pubcaster France Televisions spent e180 million ($233 million) on outside productions during the first three months of this year, 10% less than in year-earlier period.

In March alone, the value of the pubcaster’s commissions fell 47.6% compared with March 2008 to $28.6 million.

France Televisions said it had cancelled a number of contracts signed in 2008 — bad news for Gaul’s independent producers.

“We are worried by what’s happening at France Televisions,” said Emmanuelle Bouilhaguet, commercial director of Marathon Intl. “French production has been in very bad shape since 2008. Commissions have either slowed down dramatically or been cancelled, budgets have shrunk, and profit margins have become ridiculous.”

The government banned primetime advertising on France Televisions channels in January. But pols had vowed to cover the budget shortfall.

That the government would come through with money seemed to be backed up earlier this year when France Televisions’ general director Patrice Duhamel told delegates at the Intl. Festival of Audiovisual Programs (FIPA)¬†that the pubcaster wouldn’t “cut investment in French fiction to make up for the ad drop.”¬†

However, the pubcaster announced in late March that it would renegotiate production contracts for the 2009-10 season. It added that budgets on some shows had already been “reviewed significantly downwards compared to previous years.”

Pubcaster intends to spend $484.5 million on outside productions in 2009.

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