Sarkozy wants French pubcasters ad-free

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PARIS -- French President Nicolas Sarkozy turned eyes away from his private life and toward public television Tuesday, announcing plans for "the total elimination of advertising" on the country's government-funded networks at a press conference in Paris.

Sarkozy plans to compensate for the lack of ad revenue with a tax on the private channels in addition to "an infinitesimal tax on the turnover of a number of means of communications, such as Internet access or mobile phones," the president told media at the press conference.

While such a strategy would mean more taxes for the private networks, public TV group France Televisions' president Patrick De Carolis responded positively to Sarkozy's plans.

The eventual move to an ad-free public television service "validates our editorial strategy. It will allow us to reinforce the identity of the public service channels," De Carolis said in a statement shortly after Sarkozy's news conference.

De Carolis admits that such a dramatic change "would obviously involve a number of consequences for the France Televisions group, since it would profoundly change our economic model."

De Carolis has recently found himself at odds with state legislatures over the direction of his group's public networks France 2, France 3 and France 5, but is hoping Sarkozy's new strategy will keep everyone on the same page.

"It's with determination and serenity that the France Televisions group commits today to what looks like it will be an important step in its history," De Carolis said.

Private channels M6 and TF1 refused comment when contacted.
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