Move will boost presence in digital TV
PARIS — Leading Gallic commercial net TF1 is close to inking a Euros 192 million ($267.7 million) investment in AB Group, a digital TV channel operator and rights broker.While TF1’s direct stake in AB will remain at 33.5%, it will hike its share in WB Television — a holding controlled by AB majority shareholder Claude Berda — from 33.5% to 49%. Pact would allow TF1 to own all of channel NT1 and double its stake in web TMC to 80%. AB also owns a bouquet of cable and satellite services and a library with 37,000 titles. TF1’s stronger hold on NT1 and TMC, one of France’s leading DTT services, would strengthen its presence in Gaul’s booming digital terrestrial TV sector. TF1 has had a weaker DTT position than rival network M6. The network’s flagship channels have also been in decline: its audience share fell by 3.5% and its ad revs dropped by 27% in the first quarter. Once agreed, the acquisitions will be submitted to competition authorities for approval.