French gov't outlines revamped public TV

Channels to offer cultural shows during primetime

PARIS -- Life continues to change at a rapid pace for France's pubcasters.

On the heels of its move to an advertising-free primetime, the French government on Friday outlined detailed plans for a dramatic renovation of programming on the country's public TV group, France Televisions.

Each of the public group's networks will be obliged to broadcast "at least one cultural program every day during the first part of primetime," according to a government agenda printed Friday in Gallic newspapers Le Point and Le Figaro.

The networks also must air "diverse forms of theatrical, lyrical or choreographic expression." In order to enforce these requirements, the government has instated a points system whereby each network must maintain 100 points per year. Programs must air for at least 52 minutes in order to receive points.

For example, an opera airing at 8:50 p.m. would earn three points, but only one point if it were to air in the afternoon on a regular weekday. The opera might also earn three points if it were to air during the day over the weekend or on public holidays.

But will France Televisions comply with the government's demands? "There's always the possibility that they will air 100 theatrical productions in the middle of the night," Le Figaro wrote Friday.

However, a spokesperson for France Televisions said in an interview that: "There were no surprises for us. This is what we've already agreed upon with the government."

The new plan also specifies the identities of each of France Televisions' individual networks -- France 2 has been named "the generalist channel"; France 3, "the national channel with a regional vocation"; France 4, "the channel for the next generation," targeted at youth audiences; France 5, a science and technology-focused channel devoted to "the sharing of knowledge"; and RFO, which will air in France's overseas territories.
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