French networks strikes BBCWW volume deals ahead of DTT launch

Forthcoming French digital terrestrial channels RMC Découverte and 6Ter have both struck volume deals with British distributor BBC Worldwide ahead of their launch this week.

This comes as this Wednesday will see the launch of six new free-to-air HD channels on the French digital-terrestrial platform – HD1, L’Equipe 21, 6Ter, Numério 23, RMC Découverte and Chérie 25. The new additions will take the number of national free-to-air services to 25.

RMC Découverte, which is operated by NextRadioTV Group, has acquired 130 hours of lifestyle and documentary programming including Toughest Place To Be, Cockleshell Heroes, Richard Hammond’s Crash Course and a number of seasons of Top Gear.

6Ter, which is run by the M6 Group, has bought around 40 hours of natural history series including Deadly 60, Wild Australasia and The Secret Life of Elephants as well as Could We Survive A Mega Tsunami, which will air on BBC Two in the UK next year.

The channels will be formally launched at an event organised by media regulator the CSA. Their entry into the market comes at a time when the French advertising market is in trouble and the new French culture minister, Aurélie Filippetti, has admitted that their presence could have a negative effect on the overall TV advertising business.

TF1-backed HD1 and M6-backed 6Ter are expected to be the strongest performers commercially.

About 25.6% of French DTT households will be able to receive the new channels initially, with coverage rising to 97.3% by 2015. The channels will also be available via the country’s IPTV providers as well as via satellite and cable.

The new channels recently collectively lodged a protest with telecom regulator ARCEP about the transmission charges levied by TDF to distribute the services, despite the latter’s claim to have reduced them by, on average, 15%.