French TV Merger Called Off After Antitrust Probe

French TV Merger Called Off After Antitrust Probe

French television groups TF1 and M6 have dropped plans to join forces following objections from the French competition authorities to their merger.

The deal, which was seen as an attempt by the two commercial TV companies to create a European powerhouse capable of taking on the global streaming giants, has been abandoned after the French Competition Authority’s probe of the merger.

The companies said Friday that after meeting with the antitrust watchdog it became apparent they would only receive approval for the deal on the condition they sold one of the two networks’ flagship channels: either TF1 or M6 channel.

“The parties have therefore concluded that the proposed merger no longer has any strategic rationale,” read a joint statement from TF1 Group and its 44 percent owner Bouygues Group as well as M6 Group and its Luxembourg-based parent RTL Group. “The parties regret that the Competition Authority did not take into account the speed and extent of the changes sweeping through the French broadcasting sector.”

TF1 and M6 had argued that only by combining forces can big national networks in Europe continue to compete with deep-pocketed streamers as the online platforms expand internationally. Should the merger have gone ahead, Paris-based Bouygues Group would have held a 30 percent stake in the combined TF1-M6 company, with Fremantle owner RTL Group holding a strategic 16 percent stake.