Shuffle of Execs at France's TF1 Brings Summer Drama to the Network

The country's top TV broadcaster has named Philippe Balland head of production to replace Laurent Storch.

PARIS – French broadcaster TF1 is seeing some off-screen action with a summer shuffle of its top production executives.

Chairman of TF1 Production Laurent Storch left his post and has been replaced by Philippe Balland.

While the network may be saving its top dramas for the fall season, this summer, Balland’s appointment is big news for the Gallic media sector. In 2008, Balland was head of Magazines and Entertainment when Storch came on as Head of Programming and pushed Balland out. Balland, however, got back on his feet and headed to leading French radio group Europe 1, where he served as head of programming, before moving to Fnac, a major entertainment retail chain that is the largest of its kind in France.

Storch joined TF1 in 1997 and was named Head of Programming in 2008 and finally Head of Production just last year. No word yet on his next move.

French newspaper Le Point compared the executive shifts to an episode of Dallas, TNT’s series that will soon premiere on TF1: "The episode that played out on Tuesday is worthy of the Ewing family," they wrote, adding that Balland’s "arrival" at the network was better described as coming "back with a bang."

Former TF1 Acquisitions exec Benoit Louvet has been named Head of TF1 Films Production.

TF1’s artistic director for French drama Nathalie Laurent, will now report directly to Jean-Francois Lancelier, who will be in charge of all fiction, youth, magazines, games, entertainment and programming of TF1 and the group’s DTT channels TMC and NT1.

Fabrice Bailly will run the children’s programming division.

All of the new appointments take effect immediately.

The reorganization comes amidst a tough economic climate for the terrestrial broadcaster as ratings struggle and ad revenue dips. The group’s June ratings fell 1.1 percent compared to last year. However, the group’s DTT channels, TMC and NT1, are keeping them afloat as are video sales of TF1 co-production, breakout hit The Intouchables.

A spokesperson for TF1 could not be reached for comment.