Trautmann sez ‘no’

Culture chief against privatizing France 2

PARIS — French Culture Minister Catherine Trautmann has said she is resolutely opposed to the idea of privatizing France’s main pubcaster, France 2.

Speaking in Paris as the government announced its budget for 1999, Trautmann moved to stop speculation over the future of France 2. She said that she favored regrouping France’s public broadcasters into a single holding company.

Observers have been wondering about the future of the pubcaster, since the government said that public funding will account for only 50% of the network’s budget, with the rest being made up of advertising. The pubcaster has always relied on a combo of state funding and ad revenue, but has not had to hunt for so much advertising coin.

Funding rises

Overall funding for France’s public television and radio interests has risen by 2.6% to 18.5 billion francs ($3 billion), largely financed by television license fees that have risen to $124 from $122.

For 1999, France 2’s budget will be $883 million, a 2.5% increase over this year. Trautmann said that most of the increase is destined to go to financing international film and television co-productions.

Regional pubcaster France 3 has been allocated $966 million, while educational channel La Cinquieme and Franco-German cultural web Arte have been given a total of $307 million.

Despite the increases, the future funding of France’s main pubcasters remains in doubt. The Culture Ministry has let it be known that it would like France 2 and France 3 to rely less on advertising revenue in order to distance themselves from the purely commercial channels like TF1 and M6.

However, reducing the number of ads carried by the broadcasters would make more space available for additional programming, which translates into reduced funding and increased expenditure.

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