France’s Canal Plus Group and commercial nets TF1 and M6 have formed a grand alliance with other Gallic television hitters to expand the country’s mobile TV market.
A first step, announced Tuesday, has been the joint signing of a mobile TV charter. Other signatories include much of France’s media establishment: AB Groupe, a pay TV producer-operator; Bollore, a publishing and media empire; Lagardere Active, the publishing and TV arm of industrial giant Lagardere; radio-TV group NextRadioTV; and NRJ Groupe, a radio and TV operator.
The companies’ combined charter calls for an extension of mobile TV networks in France, and, importantly, “the opening up of access to networks to commercial and distributor distributors.”
The charter signatories also agree to jointly promote mobile TV services in France. Given the immaturity of the mobile TV ad market in France, the charter envisages a pay mobile TV model for France, in contrast to Asia’s free mobile TV services.
The charters’ demands reflect the current state of the French mobile TV market. France’s three mobile operators — Bouygues Telecom, France Telecom’s Orange and SFR — have all launched mobile TV operations since late 2004. France has more than 80 TV channels available on cell phone; Orange has around 500,000 subs.
The mobile TV operators’ current penetration of France’s 3G cell phone market is around 10%, making France the leading market in Europe for so-called unicast services provided by cell-phone operators.
Broadcast mobile TV is far less developed, however. Urged on by Nicolas Sarkozy’s government, the broadcasters’ signing of a charter represents a first step among major TV players to agree on a business model for mobile TV. The next step will be a commercial roll out aimed at allowing TV players to muscle in on cell phone operators’ networks. The roll out will be aimed at playing off interest in the 2008 Olympic Games.