PARIS — The economic recession and the post-8 p.m. ad ban on Gallic pubcaster France Televisions are shaking up the local TV biz.
Following a 19% drop in ad revenues from Jan. 5-Feb. 17, TF1 announced a E60 million ($75.6 million) budget cut, which mostly targets acquisitions. TF1 and MG will, however, remain the leading buyer of American skeins.
While serials such as “Lost” and “Heroes” are losing popularity, “CSI” and “House” continue to perform well. Stateside procedurals still lead Gallic TV ratings, and TF1 has picked up “Fringe,” “The Mentalist,” “Eleventh Hour” and “Brothers and Sisters” for its 2009-10 lineup.
At France Televisions, which airs “Cold Case” and “Without a Trace,” VP Patrice Duhamel said the web won’t pursue any new U.S. skeins for the rest of the year.
“Even if our American series get excellent ratings, our goal at France Televisions is to not air too many,” explains Frederic Prallet-Dujols, acquisition topper at France Televisions. “Now that we have the ad ban, we’re not as concerned about ratings.”
Some of the acquisition highlights include British crime drama “Inspector Lewis,” a spinoff of “Inspector Morse,” and Canadian detective drama series “Murdoch Mysteries,” based on Maureen Jennings’ mystery novels.
As part of the ad-ban reform prompted by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, France Televisions also will have to increase its commitment on original French fiction.
The net is developing genre series “Le Chasseur,” directed by Nicolas Cuche (“David Nolande”) about an off-the-wall hitman. Paule Zajdermann, artistic director of fiction at France 2, says the series has the dark humor of “Dexter” or “House.”
At Canal Plus, Rodolphe Belmer says he plans on developing one big-budget English-language series a year.
The paybox, which boosted a 17% jump in ad revenues from Jan. 5-Feb. 17, has recently inked a deal with HBO alums Tom Fontana, Chris Albrecht and Anne Thomopoulos. Fontana will pen and Albrecht and Thomopoulos will exec produce “The Borgias,” a 12-episode series that will chronicle the rise to power of the Spanish clan at the Vatican during the Renaissance.