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French competition authority raises concerns over proposed M6, TF1 merger

The French Competition Authority has issued its report on the proposed merger between M6 Group and TF1 Group, concluding that the deal raises a number of significant competition concerns, particularly around advertising.

Nicolas de Tavernost

TF1 and RTL-owned M6 are France’s two largest commercial broadcasters and announced their plans to merge in May last year. RTL has been hunting for a €3bn (US$3.04bn) buyer for M6 for more than a year and a half.

However, RTL Group owner Bertelsmann and TF1 owner Bouygues Group said today the nature and extent of the remedies required in the report to address competition concerns would mean the merger plans would no longer be meaningful and they would therefore abandon them.

M6 and TF1 said they do not intend to make any changes to their original plans and will inform the authority of their response within the next three weeks. Hearings will take place before the French Competition Authority’s board on September 5 and 6.

Gilles Pélisson

The proposed merger between M6 and TF1 was first announced last year as part of a plan to create a media giant that would allow the two companies to better compete with the US-based streaming platforms in France.

A new ad-supported service, combining catch-up and live streaming and based on existing services MyTF1 and 6play, would be developed, alongside an SVoD service and a production hub for local and international content.

The deal would bring together flagship channel TF1, France’s leading free-to-air broadcaster, and the group’s expanding European production business Newen with commercial network M6 plus a host of channels M6 Group acquired from Lagardère Active in 2019.

Paris-based Bouygues Group would hold a 30% stake in the as-yet-unnamed France-based company, with Fremantle owner RTL Group involved as a strategic shareholder with a 16% stake. Nicolas de Tavernost, CEO of M6 Group, has been proposed as chairman and CEO of the merged entity, with Gilles Pélisson, chairman and CEO of TF1 Group, to be nominated as deputy CEO of Bouygues Group, in charge of media and development.


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