The two channels TF1 and M6 announced their intention to merge a few months ago. Respective property of the Bouyuges group as well as RTL, the two television channels would then have pooled their advertising management, becoming, by far, the leading television group in France.
A domination which, it seems, did not please the Competition Authority. While the latter was studying the feasibility of such a merger, the two groups announced their divorce on Sunday, pulling the rug out from under the French high authority.
Because together TF1 and M6 represent a real risk for the balance of the advertising market on television. Together, the two groups would have represented 70% of the advertising market, a behemoth that no one wanted to see happen. So rather than waiting for the sine qua none conditions of the Competition Authority, the two groups preferred to cancel their merger.
TF1-M6: the Competition Authority has too many requirements
A surprising decision despite everything, especially when we know that some of the group’s secondary channels had already found a buyer, in the person of Altice. The parent company of SFR, but also of BFM TV wanted to take advantage of the merger to recover the TFX and 6 Ter channels.
In their joint press release, the two groups announce that they must put in place “ structural remedies “. They also regret that the Competition Authority did not take into account ” the extent and speed of changes in the French audiovisual sector “. In other words, the arrival of SVOD platforms as a new major advertising player in the years to come.
For its part, the Authority had for the moment mentioned ‘major competitive risks‘, but had not yet delivered its final verdict, expected by the end of the month. The state body had even taken up the arguments of the two groups in a recent press release explaining that despite the arrival of new services ‘television remains a very powerful medium for the French population.’
M6 still for sale, Bolloré ready to buy?
We must now try to guess how the two groups will evolve on their own. If the mergers have taken place, will they all be cut overnight as the press release implies? For his part RTL, the owner of the M6 television channel says he is ready to sell if an interesting offer arises, but who will have the nerve to take over a television group at the time of Netflix, Disney + and other Prime Video.
For journalist Isabelle Roberts, a media specialist and interviewed on the subject by France Info, the man of the situation for M6 could be the business magnate Vincent Bolloré. Already the owner of Canal+, the businessman is in pole position to take over the channel and RTL radio. The journalists’ unions also fear this takeover, which could have serious consequences for their editorial line.