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M6 revenues slide as TF1 attacks broadcaster

French commercial broadcaster M6 posted declines in revenue across its channels for the firstquarter as rival broadcaster TF1’s CEO Nonce Paolini used an interview with Le Figaro newspaper to denounce his competitor for undercutting advertising rates.

M6 Group posted a fall in ad revenues for its flagship channel of 4.1%, taking the Q1 total to €194.6 million. Overall revenues fell by 1.8% to €348.8 million.

M6 said it had managed to “limit” the decline in its advertising revenues on the main channel despite extremely tough economic conditions. The channel scored an average 10.7% audience share for the quarter.

Digital channel revenues fell by 1.4% to €42.8 million. M6’a Q9 channel was the leading digital-terrestrial service in the quarter with a 4.3% share.

Sales of audiovisual rights was up 3.8%, but revenues from online dropped by 6.2%, contributing to an overall decline in rights sales and diversification activities of 1.2% to €141.7 million. EBITDA meanwhile fell by 2.7% to €59.6 million.

TF1 CEO Paolini used an interview with Le Figaro today to denounce what he described as “a competitive situation without precedence in France” and blamed the “ferocious price war” launched by M6 as part of the cause for TF1’s own 12% dip in advertising revenues. He said the deep discounting introduced by M6 would have the effect of destroying value in the market.

Paolini said TF1 would continue to focus on maintaining the premium value of its advertising inventory and on targeting a wide audience rather than the female market alone, which he said M6 and most DTT channels seemed intent on cannibalising.