As head of powerful French broadcaster TF1, Patrick Le Lay has never had many fans among France’s high-minded cultural community.
But the blunt-speaking businessman has surely won more enemies lately with his recent comments on the role of commercial TV.
“Basically TF1’s vocation is to help a company like Coca-Cola sell its products,” Le Lay opines in “Business Leaders and Change,” a recently published book of interviews with Gallic captains of industry.
“For a TV commercial’s message to get through, the viewer’s brain must be receptive. Our programs are there to make it receptive, that is to say to divert and relax viewers between two commercials. What we are selling to Coca-Cola is human brain time.”
Perhaps it is a measure of the TF1 Group’s clout in France that media reaction to Le Lay’s comments has been fairly low-key. But the satirical weekly Le Canard Enchaine did reprint the TV topper’s remarks on its front page July 14, concluding: “Now it’s official: TF1 has recognized that TV viewers have brains.”