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About the author
Elisabeth Flaam

December 2005

The French medialandscape


I am an International Communication student at the Plantijn Hogeschool in Antwerp and for the course European media my assignment is to bring you an overview of the French medialandscape, with a concentration on television. But first I would like to take a step back. I would like to have a quick look at the history of broadcasting and the influence of politics.


The history of French broadcasting

The history of French broadcasting and the evolution of French politics have been intertwined for the past half-century.

The regulation of French broadcasting is carried out by three main actors:

  • The Government
  • Parliament
  • The High Council for Broadcasting (CSA)

French public service broadcasting consists of the television corporation France Télévisions. Public broadcasters are increasingly outplayed in popularity by commercial concerns and are managed more or less as private corporations. With the exception of France 5/ARTE, public broadcasting content is not very distinct from that of commercial broadcasters, which has created an identity crisis for public service broadcasting.

On the commercial television front, three national terrestrial channels are in competition. Each has a specific format:

  • TF1 is a general-interest and family-oriented channel
  • M6 caters to young audiences
  • Canal+ is a Pay-TV channel focused on movies and football matches.

The undisputed leader remains TF1, which has almost one third of the audience and half of the total television advertising revenues.

Some 95 per cent of the 25 million French households have a television set. Of these, 42 per cent have two or more television sets, a constantly increasing share which reflects a individualistic pattern.


General data

Size: approximately 551 500 km2 . France is the largest West European nation.

Languages: French 100%, rapidly declining regional dialects and languages (Provencal, Breton, Alsatian, Corsican, Catalan, Basque, Flemish)

Important minorities: Celtic and Latin with Teutonic, Slavic, North African, Indochinese, Basque minorities.

Government type: Republic

Capital: PARIS

Constitution: 28 September 1958 , amended concerning election of president in 1962, amended to comply with provisions of EC Maastricht Treaty in 1992; amended to tighten immigration laws 1993 January 1, 1958 , the treaties of Rome establishing the European Economic Community (the EEC) and European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC), come into effect. These communities gather six Member States: France , Germany , Italy , Belgium , Netherlands and Luxembourg . France is member of the Counsel of Europe since 5/5/1949


France has the third largest telecom market in Europe , after Germany and the UK . A number of new entrants provided competition after market liberalisation was introduced in 1998. However, all telecom sectors in France is still dominated by France Telecom, which has faced censure from both the regulator and EC. SFR remains the only effective integrated alternative operator in the fixed and mobile markets. This report introduces the key aspects of France ’s telecom market in 2005, providing the latest statistics on the country’s fixed network, Internet and broadband markets as well as mobile phone services. The report also reviews the national and EU regulatory framework, the status of number portability, carrier preselection and local loop unbundling, and profiles the major operators and the implications for the incumbent’s NeXT strategy for 2006 and beyond.

France recorded one of the strongest broadband markets in Europe in 2005, largely on the back of surging demand and pro-competitive action from the regulator. The country had the highest number of broadband subscribers in the EU by mid-year, dominated by DSL lines but with a growing cable footprint. This report overviews France ’s fixed and wireless broadband markets in 2005, focussing on cable modem and xDSL as well as developments with related technologies such as FttH, broadband powerline, WiFi, and Internet via satellite. The report also examines the leading providers and looks ahead to technological developments and deployments in 2006.