French TV ad ban may have to wait

Global financial crisis prompts moratorium

CANNES -- French President Nicolas Sarkozy's plans to wipe out ads from his country's public TV networks might be put on hold in the wake of the global financial crisis.

Former Prime Minister Edouard Balladur proposed a "moratorium of one or two years" on the proposed ad ban Sunday night on French news network i-tele.

Balladur said the 450 million euros ($613.76 million) the French government recently allocated to France Televisions to fund the lack of advertising on its networks is a dangerous move in such a harsh financial environment.

Discussions have been heating up among members of Jean-Francois Cope's special commission dedicated to creating a budget proposal that will compensate for the lack of ad revenue once commercials are officially removed from France Televisions' networks.

France's Cultural Minister Christine Albanel spoke out Monday against Balladur's proposal, arguing that she and the government have been working on the ad ban agenda for almost one year and that "the law is ready to go," she told French radio France Info.

She added: "Just because there is a financial crisis doesn't mean we need to interrupt everything we've worked for in terms of reform."

All of the group's channels will be ad-free after 8 p.m. starting Jan. 5. The government will examine the ad ban budget plan and decide for or against any moratorium on Oct. 21.
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