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Mediapro lodges channel application with French regulator

Mediapro, the production and agency group heavily involved in sports broadcasting, has submitted the application for its new pay-television service in France to the Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel (CSA), the French broadcast regulator.

News of the submission was announced by Julien Bergeaud, the head of Mediapro France, during a question-and-answer session in Paris yesterday.

However, further details about distribution, the recruitment of a managing editor and journalist, or a name for the channel, were not forthcoming.

Mediapro is launching subscription channels in France on the back of its €780m- ($858.3m-) per-season contract for eight Ligue 1 rights packages from 2020-21 to 2023-24. Rights to Ligue 2 have also been secured over the same period, along with Uefa Europa League rights (from 2021-22 to 2023-24).

The service is set to go live on July 25 to tie in with the first Ligue 2 coverage.

A target of 3.5 million subscribers has been set for a service set to cost €25 per month.

Speaking at the event organised by News Tank, Bergeaud said: “We will launch towards the end of July. According to the most reliable studies, there are 10 million Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 fans in France. It is possible to attract a third of them.

“In Spain, we launched a channel in the same conditions and we have reached 4.6 million subscribers in a similar market.”

On the topic of carriage agreements, Bergeaud outlined: “We will be distributed via all the distributors who wish to do so and we will also address all the new [distribution] means, all devices and all the means of broadcast by OTT.”

Distribution discussions are “well advanced”, according to Bergeaud, as talks continue with “traditional distributors” and also the ‘GAFA’ technology giants (Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon).

He added: “We will certainly have a distribution that will be innovative compared to what you have experienced so far in terms of sports television channels.”

A name and brand has been chosen for the channel, Bergeaud said, but remains confidential.

With regards to production plans for Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 matches from next season onwards, Bergeaud said that Mediapro has visited all the stadiums and is looking to equip “a certain number” of grounds with new cameras. These will include “immersive” aerial cameras and cameras behind the goals offering a “180-degree” view.

Mediapro has been criticised in the French press for the general lack of information over its plans to showcase Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 rights from 2020-21 onwards.

Jaume Roures, the Mediapro chief executive, addressed the press in October and said it would “begin to build the channel” in January “as it always said it will”.

He stressed: “There is no point in having a channel now. What am I going to do with it when we don’t have rights? Why pay rent and staff now?”

Roures said that staff had been recruited but could not be announced yet given they are under contract elsewhere.