Sarkozy unveils ad-free TV plan


French President Nicolas Sarkozy is introducing a tax on new media in order to set in motion previously announced plans for an ad-free public TV service.

Sarkozy said Thursday that the elimination of advertising on the country's public TV networks will be compensated for with "a tax on all new means of communication."

Mobile phones, computers and any form of TV-watching technology may see a 1%-2% tax implemented in the coming months. Such a tax could mean between €170 million and €340 million ($249 and $498 million) for an industry whose yearly profit totals €17 billion ($25 billion).

The announcement comes after the country's major TV networks and media groups signed a charter Tuesday urging the development of France's mobile TV market (HR 1/17).

The removal of commercials on public TV group France Televisions' networks would mean a loss of €830 million ($1.2 billion) in advertising revenue. The state plans to tax private channels TF1, M6 and Canal Plus to make up for that loss.

"No longer will anyone be able to say, 'The tyranny of ratings prevents me from airing programs adapted to public television,' " Sarkozy told national press.

France Televisions also will need to increase production to pay for the additional programming needed to fill the time previously allotted to commercials.