France closer to ad-free TV

Committee will soon submit proposal

PARIS -- French public television is on its way to becoming totally ad-free, with new state-organized committee the Cope Commission set to submit its official report outlining both financing and programming plans for the country's public TV service, France Televisions.

If the government accepts the commission's proposals, the loss in ad revenue would be compensated for through a mix of a 0.5% tax on telecom operators and Internet providers, a slight increase in annual taxes that French citizens who own TV sets already pay, plus a tax on the country's private channels.

Despite opposition from France's main private networks TF1, M6 and Canal Plus -- who earlier this week urged Cultural Minister Christine Albanel not to accept the commission's proposal for a tax on private networks -- the commission claims that such a tax is "justified" and "perfectly feasible."

Beyond financing issues, under the Cope Commission's plans, advertising on public television will be cut after 8 p.m. as of next year, then entirely banned beginning in January 2012.

The commission also proposes a quota that would require France Televisions to spend 19% of its budget on European programs, with an emphasis on literature, classical music, theater, opera, the economy, science and the arts.