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Controversial TF1-Newen deal agreed

TF1’s deal for French production group Newen has been agreed.

Tanguy de FranclieuThe agreement will see 70% of the prodco come under the control of TF1, France’s largest commercial broadcaster. This will create a new business that, the partners said, will seek to become a European production and distribution powerhouse.

The deal has caused controversy in France, where public broadcaster France Télévisions has said it will not work with Newen on new projects over concerns about the agreement’s implications.

Second-ranked commercial broadcaster M6 has also voiced concerns, and France’s industry group for indie producers, USPA, has expelled Newen from its ranks, as opposition to the indie being subsumed into a broadcast group has grown.

The agreement, which still needs final regulatory approval, sees TF1 take a 70% stake in FLCP, the holding company that controls Newen that Tanguy de Franclieu (pictured) runs as managing director, with the prodco’s management retaining the remaining equity.

In a statement the partners said: “Performance-related options, exercisable by both TF1 and the existing shareholders, are an integral part of this medium/long-term partnership deal,” though there was no further detail.

“The main objective is to develop French production in foreign markets, especially with major European broadcasters,” the statement added.

Addressing some of the industry concerns about the deal, TF1 said the new business would “respect the principles of editorial freedom and commercial independence”.

The broadcaster added the prodco will work with TF1 and third parties. “Newen will seek to maintain close relationships with its existing customers, with the assurance that a pipeline of quality programmes will be maintained over the long term,” the statement read.

France Télévisions, which is the biggest buyer of Newen programming, has claimed public money cannot be used to finance a commercial broadcaster via a production subsidiary.

TF1 noted that by “investing extra resources into the research and development of new programmes across all genres and all platforms, including TV and the internet, this partnership will help meet the challenges of developing French production, in France and across Europe”.

The new Newen will acquire and distribute formats, have more cash to invest in new content and plough into international copros, the partners said. The company house production subsidiaries Telfrance Groupe, Be Aware, Capa and 17 Juin Media.