French broadcasters eye tax relief

Private networks suffering from loss of ad revenue

PARIS -- France's private networks might be getting some tax relief after a ban on advertising on the country's public networks last year saw TF1, M6 and Canal Plus forced to pay up to fund the gap in revenue at France Televisions.

The current tax, between 1.5% and 3% of private networks' ad revenue, may be nixed by a government regulation committee headed by the UMP party's Jacques Legendre, according to an announcement made to French press on Thursday.

Leading private terrestrial networks TF1 and M6 have seen ad revenue plummet over the past year due to the financial crisis, so the Gallic government is hoping to lessen the burn by lowering, or possibly even removing the tax.

The tentative amendment to the law would see those networks who lost more than 5% of their yearly revenue pay a tax of just 0.5% on their total ad revenue and those who saw a less than 5% drop compared to 2008 pay just 1% of total ad revenue.

"This plan will be applied until the total removal of ads on France Televisions," Legendre's committee specified to French press Thursday. The announcement comes after France's Federation of Telecoms the FFT spoke out yesterday against what they see as an unfair tax that also affects telecom operators in the country and filed a complaint with the European Commission to contest the law.