Interesting bit of news coming out of from France today, as millions of French TV viewers watched their Monday evening prime-time shows ad-free.
No, it’s not a gimmick to get more people to watch a particular show. The news comes as a result of the President Nicolas Sarkozy's ban on advertising on France's public television network after 8pm – the first few steps of his controversial media reform. It is expected that advertising will be phased out gradually between now and 2011, with the period from 8pm to 6am affected first.
It has been reported that Sarkozy has said the ban on advertising is a major step to model French public television along the lines of the British Broadcasting Corporation.
But in that same report, it said the reform had been criticised for handing an advertising revenue boon to private broadcasters such as TF1, owned by Martin Bouygues, a friend of the president.
Politics aside, it will be really interesting to watch how French consumers react to the ad-free content – you would imagine they will love it.
But as time wears on, what sort of content will be produced now that state television no longer has to air shows with mass appeal. Will the standard of content suffer or will we get more interesting stuff? And how big a boost will the ban actually give private broadcasters such as TF1?
It has been reported that the 450 million euros needed to plug the revenue gap has already been written into the 2009 French budget.