France Televisions Strikes First-Look Deal With Universal Television

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The French public broadcaster will get first-look rights to new series, including Jennifer Lopez drama "Shades of Blue" and "Heart Matters."

French public broadcaster France Televisions has signed a first-look deal with Universal Television that gives it the right of first refusal on new shows from Universal, which previously had a programming deal with competitor TF1.

It is expected to pick up Jennifer Lopez’s new straight-to-series FBI drama Shades of Blue, which will premiere in September in the U.S., the Mark Burnett- and Roma Downey-produced guardian angels drama Unveiled, starring Connie Nielsen, and medical soap Heart Matters, starring Melissa George.

The move comes as president Remy Pflimlin seeks to strengthen the public broadcaster in the midst of budget cuts and a partial advertising ban, as well as an advertising market that has failed to recover as the French economy has struggled and the company has seen increased competition from newer free-to-air channels.

In the past, only the broadcaster's France 2 and 4 networks have aired American series, but it has been seeking to add more populist shows to its traditional cultural programming.

Universal had previously had a deal in place with privately owned and top-rated French network TF1, which currently airs such Universal shows as Parenthood and Chicago PD. It will retain the rerun rights to those programs and other hits, such as House and Monk, and continue to work with Universal on shows passed up by France Televisions.

TF1 has deals in place with Warner and Sony. Rival M6 has first-looks with Disney and CBS.