PARIS — Gilles Pelisson is set to succeed to Nonce Paolini at the helm of TF1, France’s top commercial channel.
Pelisson, who is the former president of Accor, Eurodisney and Bouygues Telecom, will be officially named president of TF1 on Feb. 17 and will begin his tenure on Feb. 19.
Owned by Bouygues, TF1 ranks as Europe’s biggest commercial channel in terms of ratings. Its average market share reached 22.9% in 2014, a score unmatched by other nets in Europe. TF1 is also one of France’s top purveyors of U.S. drama imports. The network reached Europe’s ratings records for American shows such as “The Mentalist.”
Paolini has been presiding TF1 since 2007 and is credited for revamping the network’s brand as well as expanding its reach within the digital arena and maintaining its leadership in France. The TF1 group, which includes four free-to-air channels, has increased its audience share by 5.5% to 28.7% in the past six years. TF1’s flagship channel accounts for 22.9% of that share.
As France’s TV landscape becomes increasingly competitive, TF1 is facing challenges to maintain top ratings on primetime. Paolini recently took some heat for replacing vet evening news anchor Claire Chazal with another female host on Sundays and the decision has so far paid off ratings-wise. Under Paolini’s leadership, TF1 also sold its controlling share in Eurosport Intl. to Discovery in order to feed its cash pipeline.
TF1 Group has also lost some ad revenues in recent years, notably because of the boom of digital terrestrial channels and platforms, but still reps about 40% of the TV ad market in France.
French mag Le Point noted Pelisson was not familiar with audiovisual but knows the entertainment world from his time at Eurodisney. Pelisson is also a close ally of TF1’s owner Martin Bouygues, according to Le Point.