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Cablegate: New Satellite Tv Channels: Third in a Series On French

VZCZCXRO6571
RR RUEHIK RUEHYG
DE RUEHFR #0703/01 0541829
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 231829Z FEB 07
FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5130
INFO RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE
RUEHMRE/AMCONSUL MARSEILLE 1559
RUEHSR/AMCONSUL STRASBOURG 0340

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PARIS 000703

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EUR/PPD, EUR/WE, INR, R

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC PREL KPAO FR
SUBJECT: NEW SATELLITE TV CHANNELS: THIRD IN A SERIES ON FRENCH
MEDIA


PARIS 00000703 001.2 OF 002


Sensitive but unclassified. Please protect accordingly.

-------
SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU) Embassy Paris is reviewing and recalibrating its media
strategy for 2007, in order to maintain the appropriate level of
focus of print media while building on our contacts with radio and
TV media. This analysis of satellite providers is the third in a
series of cables analyzing the media environment. End Summary.

----------------------------
TNT: THE WAVE OF THE FUTURE
----------------------------

2. (SBU) France has undertaken a major project entitled the
"Television of the future," which aims to provide universal digital
television coverage via the Digital Video Broadcast (TNT) system by
sometime between March 2008 and November 2011. The objective is to
enable 100 percent of the French population to receive 18 digital
quality channels free of charge. A government-sponsored interest
group will be in charge of assisting those viewers who would
otherwise not be able to afford the service, including the
possibility of no-cost satellite reception in areas without TNT
service.

3. (SBU) The French government is trying to ensure that the French
have access to a wide variety of channels, public as well as
private, and that France is on the cutting edge for digital
television technology. The TNT system has tripled the number of
free channels available to most viewers (from 6 to 18, including
such news channels as i-tele, BFM-TV, and Direct-8). It offers six
full public channels (as opposed to three on the analog TV) with
more news, music, youth programs, movies, documentaries and
made-for-TV films.

--------------------------------------
SATELLITES: THE CURRENT STATE OF PLAY
--------------------------------------

4. (SBU) In January 2007, CanalSat and TPS (Television Par
Satellite) formalized their merger, previously approved by the
Ministry of Economy, Finance and Industry in August 2006. The new
company, called Canal plus France, is now the only TV satellite
operator in France. To preserve competition, however, the
government required Canal plus France to respect a series of
specific conditions for a number of years.

5. (U) The Canal plus Group signed a long-term contract on January
19 with Luxembourg-based SES ASTRA for the satellite transmission of
Canal plus France's program selection for the French Market.

----------------
HOTBIRD/EUTELSAT
----------------

6. (U) Eutelsat is the other leading satellite provider in France
and is based in Paris. Established in 1977 as an intergovernmental
organization to give Europe a satellite telecommunications network,
Eutelsat became a Limited Company in 2001 following the
liberalization of the telecommunications sector. Eutelsat made its
first public stock offering in December 2005. Eutelsat's
shareholders include Abertis Telecom (Spain leading communication
company) with 32 percent and Caisse des Depots with 25.5 percent,
others 9.3 percent. The Caisse des Depots is a French public and
investment organization, whose CEO is appointed by Presidential
decree by the Council of Ministers.

---------------------
ARABSAT AND FRANCE 24
---------------------

7. (SBU) State-owned France 24 (all-news channel) signed a
cooperative agreement with Arabsat, an Inter-Governmental
Organization founded by the Arab League in 1976, in November 2006 to
distribute France 24 via Arabsat's satellites. Arabsat's
headquarters are in Riyadh, but the company maintains an office in
Paris.

------------------------------------------
COMMENT: KEEPING THE GOVERNMENT'S HAND IN
------------------------------------------

8. (SBU) Digital video broadcasts (TNT) and French government use of
available satellite providers work to enhance basic programming
availability throughout France, while allowing France to stay near

PARIS 00000703 002.2 OF 002


technology's cutting edge and maintaining a role for the government
in distribution. Our media outreach is expanding to embrace these
newly enhanced TV programming opportunities.
STAPLETON

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