The news that France will ban all primetime advertising on public television from the beginning of next year has prompted angry union demonstrations. It was a move long threatened by President Nicolas Sarkozy, ever since he announced his plans to turn the country’s audiovisual industry upside down.
He says it will give public broadcasters greater freedom from corporate pressure.
Critics say it will boost profits for the private broadcasters, many of which are run by long-time friends of the president.
“Our proposal, to be approved by parliament, is that from the 1st of January 2009, screens will be free of advertising from 8pm until 6am,” Sarkozy explained.
State broadcasters will get more government funding, raised by taxing internet, telephone and commercial broadcasting companies.
Shares of private television operators TF1 and M6 rose sharply on the news.
All advertising on state television will be cut by 2011.
The advertisers are angry because they say they will lose access to older and higher income viewers, and may have to pay more for existing advertising spots on the private channels.