March 6, 2018 / 8:31 AM / 13 days ago

France's Orange threatens to cut TF1's signal

PARIS (Reuters) - Orange is ready to stop broadcasting channels owned by TF1 if it continues to demand fees for content that is available via other distributors for free, its chief executive was quoted as saying by Le Figaro on Monday.

French telecom operator Orange Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Stephane Richard speaks during a news conference to present the company's 2017 annual results in Paris, France, February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

“We will not sign an agreement with a fee clause for content that is available freely on other distribution channels,” Orange’s boss Stephane Richard was quoted as saying. Orange and TF1 have been locked in a row over distribution fees for two years.

An Orange spokesman said: “We are in discussions with TF1 but we have to take note that the position of TF1 is to refuse any significant advance. So, alas, we don’t exclude anything.”

France’s Canal Plus pay-TV group, part of Vivendi, on Friday said it was suspending broadcasts of channels owned by TF1, also citing “unreasonable” fees on its distributors.

Canal Plus’s decision led to a loss of audience for TF1’s major weekend programs and evening news.

“I hope it’s not going to be too long, we’re receiving many complaints from viewers who are furious,” said TF1 deputy chief executive Regis Ravanas on RMC radio station on Tuesday.

“I think we’re going to find an agreement soon,” he added, referring to current talks with Orange.

TF1 is controlled by French conglomerate Bouygues.

Reporting by Dominique Rodriguez and Caroline Pailliez; Writing by Richard Lough and Mathieu Rosemain; Editing by Adrian Croft/Sudip Kar-Gupta

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