46. France Télévisions S.A.
Revenues 2010: € 3.004 billion
France Télévisons is public TV and radio holding and employed approximately 11.000 people in 40 subsidiaries in 2009.
7, esplanade Henri de France
75907 Paris, France
Tel.: 0033-1-56 22 60 00
Branches: TV stations (free TV, pay TV), TV and film production, distribution, marketing of advertising time, publishing house, multimedia
Legal Form: Public Company, state-owned
Financial Year: 01/01 - 12/31
Founding Year: 1949 foundation of the RTF (Radio et Télévision Françaises); 1974 split of the ORTF (Office de la radio et de la télévision françaises) into the TV stations TF1 (1987 privatized), Antenne 2 and FR3; 2000 Foundation of France Télévisions S.A., holding of all public TV stations.
Revenues (in € Mio.)
Executives (comité exécutif):
- Rémy Pflimlin, Président
- Emmanuelle Guilbart, Directrice Générale déléguée aux programmes, Directrice de France 4
- Patrice Papet, Directeur Général délégué à l’Organisation, aux Ressources Humaines et à la Communication Interne
- Martin Adjari, Directeur Général délégué à la Gestion, aux Finances et aux Moyens
- Bruno Patino, Directeur Général délégué au Développement Numérique et à la Stratégie, Directeur de France 5
- Thierry Thuillier, Directeur Général Adjoint en charge des Rédactions et des Magazines
- Daniel Bilalian, Directeur Général Adjoint chargé des Sports
- Yves Rolland, Secrétaire Général
- Frédéric Olivennes, Directeur de la Communication externe et du Marketing image du groupe
- Hervé Michel, Directeur des Affaires Internationales de France Télévisions
Jean Réveillon, Directeur de France 2
- François Guilbeau, Directeur de France 3
- Claude Esclatine, Directeur d’Outre-mer 1ère de France Ô
- Yann Chapellon, Directeur de la Diversification et du Développement des recettes et Président-Directeur Général de FTD
Major holders: State of France (100 %).
France Télévisions is the legal successor of the public French TV station (RTF - Radiodiffusion-télévision française, from 1949), that is, the station group ORTF ( Office de Radiodiffusion-Télévision Française, replaced the RTF in 1964). In 1974, ORTF was disbanded. France 2, a second RTF channel, was launched in 1963, about the same time as the German television channel ZDF as well as France 3, each of which was granted an autonomous status. In 1992, both channels were re-merged under the name France Télévision (without the 's') and the position of a joint president was created. France Télévisions S.A.. both a holding of public television stations and stock corporation under government control was created in 2000. The president's mandate was extended from three to five years. Yet nobody was prepared for things to come - Nicols Sarkozy, his new year address in 2008 left behind a puzzled and partially dismayed media world. The president called for more quality in the public television sector and less (successful mind you) US series and promptly conjured a plan for a total advertising ban for public television: The abolition of advertising after 8pm, in effect from the 5th of January 2009, with a complete ban of advertising scheduled to follow in 2011 (revoked in the meantime). To France Télévision, this announcement translated to a loss of 20 to 30 % of the budget from 2009 ( 823 Mio. € for advertising and sponsoring in 2007, 618,5 Mio. € in 2008). The advertising ban („une révolution culturelle dans le service public de la télévision“) triggered a wave of protest as soon as it was announced. The result was quick strike action and the news at noon were cancelled completely. The left-wing „Libération“ spoke of a '800-million-Euro-cheque' for Sarkozy-chum Martin Bouyges, owner of the private channel TF1 and, so it seemed, the biggest profiteer of the whole affair. (A circumstance that turned out to be a false conclusion after all, given the fact that the advertising revenue of market leader TF1 decreased in the first quarter of 2009 by a whooping 27%). The unions claimed that the president planned to let the public television stations “bleed to death”. Media agencies and advertising economists spoke of a potential 'destabilisation' of the market, with whole target groups potential subject to omission (upper classes, over 50 year-olds).
In February, an ad-hoc commission, led by UMP minister Jean-François Copé („commission pour la nouvelle télévision publique“) was established in order to ponder on the future of the public television services, discuss possible refinancing measures regarding the advertising ban and, according to the ' Libération', give the president's spontaneous announcement the appearance air of democracy.
The television union called the whole proceeding a 'masquerade', an 'operation intended to disguise the destruction of the public television in favour of the private sector'. It soon became clear that the president did not intend to adhere to the commission's recommendation, which sought to increase the radio fees (With 116 € per annum, the French fees are considerably lower than the European average of 160 €)
In early March 2009, the 'The audiovisual sector reform act' was finally adopted and made public. The crux of the reform: The advertising ban in public television, its future financing plans (a tax for private stations over 3% of revenues, a tax for Internet and mobile providers over 0.9 of revenues) as well as the very controversial appointment of eventual public TV stations' directors through the president.
On top of the advertising ban, Sarkozy urged the public television stations to risk a fresh start when it comes to evening prime time – a “curious variation on presidential power” (SZ from the 6th of July 2010). Yet, it was primarily the appointment of the station manager through the president that caused headaches all round. Ever since, the independence of the public radio and television sector in France has been considered endangered both according to national and international opinion. It took only a year to redefine French media policy and considerably extend the governmental influence on public channels. Something that would be unheard of in the rest of Europe, at least not without considerable opposition. Examples of which are the BBC charter, which is a result of four years of hard labour and a high degree of public co-determination or the complex and meticulously balanced system that leads to the appointment of the ZDF director in Germany. Hence, one cannot help but to see the unequivocal signals from the Elysée: Back to government-controlled television. However, the process of finding a new director turned out to be a rather turbulent ride after all. Sarkozy could not be swayed from his position (“France Télévisions is property of the state and the state appoints the director”) and many names were thrown in the hat for months (including the director Yamina Benguigui, the former directeur général of France 3 Rémy Pflimlin, the head of the Centre national du cinéma Véronique Cayla). Alexandre Bompard, born in 1972, head of the Europe 1 radio station ( Lagardère) had been considered the favourite for a while.
On the 14th of April 2010, the former culture and communication minister and contemporary vice-president of the senate, Catherina Tasca, wrote about the 'France Télévisions state-curse' and the renowned culture magazine ' Télérama' released a manifest entitled 'Liberate public broadcasting!' (signed by 100 personalities from politics and culture), addressing the 'unbearable regression' that was the direct line that had been established between the executive power and the leadership of public broadcasting.
In 1982, after one year in power, the socialist party under François Mitterand had abolished the governmental broadcasting monopoly.
On the morning of the 5th of July, the Elysée finally announced the patron to be of France Télévisions - Rémy Pflimlin. All in all, things happened slightly faster than expected, given the fact that the announcement of the name had not been expected before the 14th of July, a national holiday. It seems that Sarkozy tried to distract from scandals simmering away in his ranks and the recent negative polls by means of this (albeit quiet unspectacular) PR coup. Only one day prior to the announcement, the 5th of July, Sarkozy was forced to urge two secretaries of the state to step down (One of which, Christian Blanc, had bought cigars worth 12.000 with his public spendings account and the other, Alain Joyandet, flew to a conference in the Caribbean using a private jet – the cost: 117.000 €).
Rémy Pflimlin, 56, born in the Alsatian Mulhouse, had been working in the media sector from the very beginning of his career. His work positions include the Strasbourg daily newspaper Les Dernières Nouvelles d’Alsace, before he became head of the public station France 3 in 1999. He left in 2005, when Patrick de Carolis arrived at the France Télévisions-Holding and brought along his own team. Pflimlin is know to be of a liberal-conservative disposition and had been considered the next Arte-president for quiet some time. The competence he brings to the new job is undeniable. Yet, to many, the direct appointment through the president Nicolas Sarkozy leaves a unpleasant after-taste.
It is too early to pass a final judgement on Rémy Pflimlin, he is still the 'new guy'. However, the confusion surrounding his appointment is included in news magazine 'L’Express's “ten most crucial political duds of the year” - list („les 10 ratés politiques de l’année“, released 23.12.2010), according to the which, Sarkozy shot himself in the foot. Whatever Pflimlin will go on to do, it will always bear a crucial stigma: The grand shadow of the president.
Initially, it seemed that Pflimlin would do everything to confirm this prophetic statement. In August 2010, Arlette Chabot had to leave: The highly regarded and experienced head of the news division at France Télévisions, a well-known thorn in the side of the Élysée. The journalists Franz-Olivier Giesbert (author of the Sarkozy-critical „M. le Présdent: Scènes de la vie politique, 2005-2011“) and Guillaume Durand (Friend of the Sarkozy-enemy Dominique de Villepin) shared the same fate: They lost their positions. Pflimlin's next step was to hire Thierry Thuillier (succeeding Arlette Chabot) and Pierre Sied (the new Directeur général at France 3), both good acquaintances of the president. Cyril Viguier had complained to Sarkozy that his programming ideas were met with dead ears when he suggested them to Patrick de Carolis. In Autumn, he joined France 3 as well. Pflimlin commented on those issues during an extensive with the „Libération“ from the 4th of May 2011: “It is true, there will always be a looming doubt and that is why I maintain my distance (…) I never took Sarkozy to lunch or out for dinner. We are on formal terms.”
All of France's public television stations are combined under the France Télévisions-Holding ( 32,7 % market share of the whole group in 2009). From the venerable public flagship that is France 2 (16,7% market share in 2009), the more regional orientated France 3 (11,8%) over the culture and education channel France 5 (3,1%), all of which can be received via terrestrial broadcasting to RFO station group (Réseau France Outre-mer) with 17 television and ten radio stations in French overseas territories and France 4 (former 'Festival'), the successful film, series, comedy and music channel, distributed via cable, satellite and French DVB-T (Target audience: 15-34, 1,1% market share).
Furthermore, France Télévisions holds shares of the channels Arte France (45% and 50% of Arte), TV5 Monde (47,5%) as well as special interest channels Mezzo (40% FTV, 60% Lagardère), Planète Thalassa (34% FTV, 66% Canal+), Planète Justice (34% FTV, 66% Canal+), Gulli (Children's programs TV, 60% Lagardère) and EuroNews. Plus additional subsidiaries from advertising (France Télévisions Publicité), licensing (France Télévisions Distribution) and film production (France 2 Cinéma, France 3 Cinéma).
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