His hearing was expected. Ten days after the burial by TF1 and M6 of their merger project, Benoît Coeuré, the president of the Competition Authority, was heard this Tuesday, at the end of the afternoon, by the commission for culture, Senate Education and Communications. His institution played a decisive role in the abandonment of this marriage. In the eyes of the authority, the competitive risks were so high – particularly in the television advertising market – that only a sale of the TF1 or M6 channel would have made it possible to celebrate it. The trouble is that this perspective “emptied”mechanically, “the project of its substance”recalled Benoît Coeuré.
In recent days, however, he has been the subject of criticism after asserting that the role of his institution was not to conduct an industrial policy. He forcefully defended this line before the senators. According to him, “a growth policy for the French economy” must “walk on two legs”. The first is “an industrial policy” which it is not for him to define. The second is “a competition policy that fights rents”. Her “general philosophy”he added, is that these two legs are absolutely necessary for the economy to run smoothly.
Asked, despite everything, about the authority’s decision, and whether it “wasn’t going to kill free DTT”Benoît Coeuré recalled that “TF1 and M6 have never done so well”. “Or so they say”, he said, echoing the latest and excellent financial results of the two television giants. The President of the Competition Authority affirms “have no doubt that both channels will reinvent themselves to adapt to technological challenges” of tomorrow. Including the streaming revolution. TF1 and M6 argued, in fact, that their marriage would have allowed them to work twice as hard on this segment.
On this subject, Benoît Coeuré underlined that “this operation would not have fundamentally changed the situation”. According to him, there is no doubt that this deal would have given birth to “synergies”synonymous with more ” resources “ to devote to the development of a video on demand offer. But it would have happened “to the detriment of advertisers and distributors”, which would have seen their prices increase, he judges. But above all, he continued, these news ” resources “ would, in any case, never have allowed TF1 and M6 to compete head-on with Amazon, Disney and Netflix, with immensely deeper pockets. This marriage “would not have revolutionized the situation between free TV and online platforms”he added.
“Netflix was not born from the merger of television channels”
On his way, Benoît Coeuré said that it is up to the government – and not to the authority, therefore – to do what is necessary for champions of the caliber of Netflix to emerge in France. “Netflix was not born from the merger of television channels”he dropped, recalling that the streaming juggernaut was only in its infancy only a modest subscription DVD rental service. “The question we have to ask ourselves is how France can provide a framework” which allows such behemoths to emerge, continued Benoît Coeuré. Words that will undoubtedly make TF1 and M6 cringe.