French TV protests tax laws

M6, TF1 and Canal Plus write to government

PARIS -- France's private TV networks have banded together to protest a recent government tax on their ad revenue to compensate for the country's new ad-free public television initiative instated in January.

Private terrestrial channels M6 and TF1 have joined pay TV group Canal Plus in a joint letter to Prime Minister Francois Fillon, urging him to move to amend the new tax in the wake of the financial crisis.

The networks accuse the tax of being "unfounded and inopportune" in a time when the advertising market is in crisis, the letter said.

Both TF1 and M6 have seen their ad revenue plummet in the current economic climate -- a 5.3% loss for M6 in January and 3% in February and a colossal 17.6% for TF1 in January and 20.5% in February -- and those groups predict close to a 15% drop in ad revenue on the terrestrial networks in March.

The Prime Minister hadn't responded to the demand as of late Friday.