Xavier Niel’s ambitions shake up M6

Will go, won’t go? In terms of audiovisual, the suspense this Monday, January 23 should revolve around Xavier Niel: the boss of Free (and individual shareholder of the World) will he try to blow his frequency to M6? On January 16, the businessman took a final step by asking Arcom, the Audiovisual and Digital Communication Regulatory Authority (ex-CSA), for the email address where to send him, in accordance with the procedure adopted, an application file. That he refrains from using it today seems unlikely.

For Xavier Niel, who has expressed his desire twice in 2022 to seize the 48.3% stake that RTL Group owns in the M6 ​​group, the opportunity is unique. It is the first time since 1987 and the authorization granted to TF1 and M6 to exploit these State properties free of charge, that the two channels must actively seek the right “use of the radioelectric resource” necessary to “publishing a television service”. Despite the boom in other modes of reception, DTT is still the only mode of access to television for around 20% of French households.

Several reasons to pursue the Six rather than the One have been served on a plate to the founder of Iliad by the news of recent months: not only has the owner of M6 just tried to get rid of it – first hoping to merge it with TF1 and then trying to sell it – but the one who is supposed to be the best defender of the channel’s interests before Arcom, the chairman of the management board Nicolas de Tavernost, did everything to ensure that these operations succeed. The 72-year-old leader “is going to have a hard time swearing hand on heart that he wants to commit for the next ten years”, mocks one of his competitors.

“It’s not very serious”

With the vice-president of the executive board Thomas Valentin, the patriarch of the French audiovisual sector nevertheless struggled last week to renegotiate new commitments with the players in the audiovisual sector. “They took it extremely late, which is not very serious”criticizes a producer.

The signing by TF1, on January 12, of a “new partnership agreement” for three years with representatives of the sector – a renewal of his previous commitments, for the most part – gave the feeling that the pressure was increasing on M6. La Une notably renews its commitment to finance the creation of heritage works up to 12.5% ​​of its turnover. “It was important that we renew our agreement which brings investments in French fiction to 200 million euros per year for three years”rejoices one of the beneficiaries of the partnership. “The appearance of a financial commitment in independent documentaries represents a considerable step forward for us”adds for his part Vincent Gisbert, the general delegate of SPECT (the Union of producers and creators of television programs).

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