Six Cope Commission members resign

Group aims to find funds for French TV after ad ban

PARIS -- Six members of France's Cope Commission, a government subsidiary set up to find ways to fund President Nicolas Sarkozy's advertising ban on the country's public TV channels and radio stations, resigned from their posts Wednesday.

Based on their belief that the commission was no longer significant, the six socialist and communist members of the organization confirmed rumors that they would step down after expressing anger when Sarkozy rejected their recommendation to raise public network France Televisions' licensing fees to compensate for the gap in ad revenue.

The Cope Commission had proposed three scenarios to compensate for the revenue shortfall: increasing the French television license, taxing electronic consumer goods or taxing telecom and Internet operators.

The president rejected the commission's recommendation for a rise in licensing fees and then announced plans to add three minutes of ads to films aired on commercial Gallic broadcasters M6, TF1 and Canal Plus.

"In addition to the advertising ban, now there's a second commercial break for the private networks. All of this leads us to believe that the Cope Commission was put into place less to finance tomorrow's public TV service than to steal from the private networks, in particular TF1," Bloche said.