13 July 2008

FR - Sarkozy looking to build national media champion

When President Nicolas Sarkozy announced in January that he would ban commercials from public television, it took only moments for the share price of private broadcasters to react. It was also the first hint that behind a profound and controversial shake-up of the French public television sector loomed a much larger vision - one involving private media companies, some of Sarkozy's closest friends in the business and a long-held ambition of the president to groom that special breed of company he had already created in other industries: the national champion.There is no French multimedia empire comparable to Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. or Bertelsmann of Germany, which own newspapers, television channels and radio interests and Internet ventures worldwide. And there is no French equivalent of British Broadcasting Corp., with an international reputation and no advertising pressures.