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No love for ‘Loft’ at TF1

Pact aimed to bar garbage TV in Gaul, Le Lay sez

PARIS — The head of private network TF1 has accused rival web M6 of breaking a secret agreement not to broadcast “Big Brother”-style reality programs by launching its controversial series “Loft Story.”

The agreement was made to “prevent garbage television in France,” according to TF1 prexy Patrick Le Lay, confirming press rumors of the agreement with M6 head Nicolas de Tavernost.

It was TF1’s first official reaction to M6’s “Loft Story” since its April 26 debut. Show, about twentysomethings holed up together in an apartment, has scandalized critics and fascinated auds.

Le Lay, who is usually on the other end of criticism about poor-quality TV, called on family associations, “defenders of human rights,” politicians and French broadcasting authority the CSA to protest the show.

He blamed German group Bertelsmann’s takeover of RTL, which owns 41.8% of M6, for the web’s descent into trash TV.

And Le Lay, who is also prexy of cabler TPS, which carries 24-hour coverage of “Loft Story,” called for an extraordinary meeting to discuss the show’s future on the channel.

M6 prexy de Tavernost has hit back, claiming TF1 made the first move toward French reality TV in July by buying the “Survivor” format for a version to be aired this summer.

He also threatened to take cabler Zalea TV to court after it urged viewers to “liberate ‘Loft Story’ hostages.”

Pamela Denton, founder of the militant Zalea TV, said, “This program shows the level to which M6 is prepared to sink to meet the demands of its shareholders.”

The assault on the loft apartment is to take place Saturday.