Louvet to lead film production unit

PARIS

In an abrupt exec shuffle at Gallic commercial broadcaster TF1, Philippe Balland has replaced Laurent Storch as chairman of TF1 Prods.

He had been expected to step down at the end of the month to pursue an as-yet-unspecified career outside TF1, said a network source. Storch has a good track record at the free-to-air network. He joined in 1997, rising to head of programming in 2008 and production head last year.

Former journalist and novelist Balland, who has been at TF1 since 2000, will become chairman of production; Benoit Louvet, a former deputy director of acquisitions, will take over Storch’s post as chairman of TF1 Films Prods.

Nathalie Laurent, artistic director for French drama, will now report to Jean-Francois Lancelier, the director general of TF1 network, programming and TF1 Group production. The youth program unit, which also fell under Storch’s oversight, will be headed by Fabrice Bailly.

Over the last 18 months, France has seen market fragmentation, which hit core channel TF1’s June ratings, down to 22.2%, 1.1% below June 2011. But, as a whole, the TF1 Group has weathered fragmentation well thanks to market share growth at its DTT channels TMC and NT1.

TF1 Films co-produced “The Intouchables,” which brought a video distribution windfall, helping to boost TF1’s rights revenues 31% to €38.1 million ($47.6 million) for the first quarter.

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