A push for mergers that would help European TV networks compete with fast-growing US streaming platforms is putting the region’s strict media ownership rules under strain, reported Bloomberg.
Bertelsmann SE’s 48% stake in the owner of French channel M6 is up for sale and the German media company is leaning toward a tie-up with rival Television Francaise 1 SA. It would be the most dramatic shake-up of France’s audiovisual landscape in decades and is likely to draw intense scrutiny from the country’s competition and media watchdogs.
“A merger with TF1 would fit with our strategy of actively pursuing market consolidation,” Bertelsmann Chief Executive Officer Thomas Rabe said at an earnings presentation on Tuesday, March 30.
Rabe is presenting it as a test of whether rules that uphold media plurality and stop any one player dominating the advertising market are fit for purpose in the streaming era. Critics say they were designed for a time when the old “linear” broadcasters were the only game in town, and fail to acknowledge the new competition brought by digital video advertising and on-demand services such as Netflix, Disney+, and Amazon’s Prime Video.
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