Litmus test in the EU – Reality sets in for TV

I had a headsup yesterday regarding a shift that was about to take place in France with one of their TV networks.

The French 24-hour news channel LCI is likely to close at the end of the year.

This follows a controversial decision by the CSA not to allow it, along with Paris Première and Planet +, to move from a subscription to FTA, ad-funded DTT service, according to BroadbandTV News.

What’s key is, especially in the years of my following France and the EU, and their unique decisions in the media technology marketplace, is that in many ways France is a litmus test in how media and especially new applications/media are consumed.

As a market here in the states, no for that matter globally, we’ve been evangelizing how the ad market will just grow as we bring new eyeballs to new devices. Of course intelligent targeting is key and the extension of programing to ancillary devices will only further new offerings.

But is it really true? Does this affect the programmers and their content creation and distribution – especially in driving eyeballs to that programming to create the viewership that the ad model needs to rely on.

“In a detailed statement, the CSA says it considered requests for the three channels, operated by TF1 (LCI), M6 (Paris Première) and Canal+ (Planet+) to modify their method of funding, in accordance with of a law passed in September 1986 and amended in November 2013.” The decision is based on the state of the advertising market, financial position of existing free DTT channels and the supply and consumer demand for TV.

These three areas are really interesting and key.

On the first point, the CSA concluded that no significant market recovery – TV ad revenues have dropped sharply – is expected in the short terms and the medium term outlook still remains uncertain.

On the second, the financial situation of several free channels remains fragile, especially those not backed by a large group/corporation. Moreover, HD channels authorized in 2012 are still in their growth phase, so a ways away from being able to contribute.

On the third, the arrival of one or more free channels is unlikely to result in a significant increase in the use of TV in a market for example Paris that is already served by 25 such services.

Looking specifically at each of the three channels, the CSA said that the transformation of LCI into an ad-funded service could destabilize the two existing news channels.

In the case of Paris Première, it would probably affect the economic and financial viability of the other free DTT channels.

Meanwhile, Planet+ as a second documentary channel would be somewhat premature, given that the first channel has not yet achieved “financial balance.”

I see this move as the first real example in the TV world of waking up.

As an industry we can not continue to bring loosing market offerings just to stay “hip” in the market, or for that matter free content to the viewer to stay in competition with YouTube’s viewership, or IP simple/cheap connected boxes as enablers to extract that content – which who may potentially become0 the next Aereo’s.

Our technology can now bring TV/video programming across most, if not all platforms exceedingly well.

This move in France, perhaps as in years past, is something that we should be keenly aware of.

For those of us that remember when Mintel, BBC’s first red button or Canal+’s interactive STB platform and how they made a difference, the French market’s a tremendous leader in helping the rest of the world wake up.

Let’s see if the industry is awake and recognizes a real example on how we need to deliver real solutions that drives real business.

Just a thought.