Lagardere Buys Up France Televisions’ 34%

Move opens door to more competition for kids' TV shows in France

Opening up new sales opportunities for foreign kids TV suppliers, Paris-based Lagardere Group has pacted with Gallic pubcaster France Televisions to buy FT’s 34% stake in Gulli, raising Lagardere’s stake in the DTT kids’/family channel to a full 100%.

Announced via Twitter by Denis Olivennes, prexy of Lagardere’s core media biz division, Lagardere Active, deal is worth about Euros 25 million ($34.2 million), per Agence France-Presse (AFP), the French news agency.

Lagardere’s taking full ownership of Gulli clears the way for France Televisions, which was bound by a non-complete clause as a Gulli partner, to comply with a remit from French culture minister Aurelie Filippetti, re-launching its own France 4 channel as a daytime kids channel. To date, France 4 mostly aired series.

Sweetening the deal with Lagardere, and also observing its public service brief, France Televisions will limit the number of commercials on its revamped France 4, allowing Gulli a bigger slice of France’s kids’ TV ad market.

France 4 will air innovative evening/night programming, former France 4 programming director Sandrine Roustan said mid-October.

The rebooted France4 looks set to launch early 2014.

Lagardere’s acquisition forms part of its ongoing push to focus Lagardere Active around its audiovisual biz, while its progressively sells off its portfilio of press assets.

In a positive development for kids’ TV show producers in and outside France, Gulli’s Lagardere buyout also looks set to dynamize France’s kids’ TV market, creating competition between two strong free-to-air tyke channels – Gulli and France 4.

Airing “Monster High,” “Pokemon,” Gulli’s sked is 70% animation, of which 60% is sourced from outside France, per AFP.

Lagardere already owns not only Gulli but children’s service Canal J and for 7s-and-below channel Tiji. With Gulli totally under its belt, Lagardere can now move into the pay-TV kids’ TV sector, break-out pay-TV children’s channels, Lagardere Active TV director Gerald-Brice Viret signalled to AFP.

Elsa Keslassy contributed to this report

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