TF1 tunes into France’s digital webs

Broadcaster inks deal for two DTV channels

BRUSSELS — Dominant Gallic broadcaster TF1 inked a $271 million deal Thursday to take control of two digital terrestrial TV channels run by Groupe AB.

It will own all of NT1 and 80% of TMC, giving it a solid presence in the dynamic French free-to-air DTT market, where the channels are ranked fifth and first, respectively.

Terms of the agreement were revealed May 28 but staff reps’ approval was required to finalize the deal.

The accord still needs to pass Gaul’s competition regulator, which may decide that the move makes TF1 too powerful.

TF1 is already a minority shareholder in Groupe AB, whose management will set up a new company to handle the remaining assets: back catalog, pay TV channels and a satellite platform. They have the option of buying out TF1’s minority shareholding within two years for $219 million.

The deal also gives TF1 a minority shareholding in WB Television, which controls Belgian channels AB3, AB4 and Videoclick.