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France Télévisions (French pronunciation: [fʁɑ̃s televizjɔ̃]) is the French public national television broadcaster. It is a state-owned company formed from the bringing together of the public television channels France 2 (formerly Antenne 2) and France 3 (formerly France Régions 3), later joined by the legally independent channels France 5 (formerly La Cinquième), France Ô (formerly RFO Sat), and France 4 (formerly Festival).
France Télévisions is currently funded by the revenue from television licence fees and commercial advertising. The new law on public broadcasting will phase out commercial advertising on the public television channels (at first in the evening, then gradually throughout the day).
France Télévisions is a supporter of the Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV (HbbTV) initiative (a consortium of broadcasting and Internet industry companies including SES, OpenTV and Institut für Rundfunktechnik) that is promoting and establishing an open European standard for hybrid set-top boxes for the reception of broadcast TV and broadband multimedia applications with a single user interface, and has selected HbbTV for its interactive news, sports and weather service, and plans to add catch-up TV and social media sharing capability.
From 1964 to 1974, French radio and television was monopolized through an organization known as the Office de Radiodiffusion Télévision Française. In an effort to stimulate competition, the organization was split in 1975 so that the France’s three television channels—TF1, Antenne 2, and FR3, would still be owned by the French government, but be operated independently from each other. However, the privatization of TF1 in 1987 and increased competition from other new private broadcasters (such as Canal+ and La Cinq) led to a decline in viewership for the two remaining public channels, who lost 30% of their market share between 1987 and 1989. The channels were however saved when a single director-general was appointed to manage both Antenne 2 and FR3, becoming part of a joint entity known as France Télévision. They were renamed in 1992 as France 2 and France 3 respectively.
In August 2000, France Télévisions S.A. was formed as a holding company for France’s public television channels, absorbing control of France 2, France 3, and fellow public channel La Cinquième (later renamed France 5). In 2004, Réseau France Outre-mer was absorbed by France Télévisions. Beginning in 2008, the President of France took the duty of naming the presidents for the French public broadcasters; they were previously nominated by the Conseil supérieur de l’audiovisuel.
Logo of France Télévision from 5 September 2011
Channels – National
- France 2 – Primary channel with the second largest viewing audience (after TF1).
- France 3 – Network of regional stations.
- France 4 – Available only on digital television. Previously named “Festival”, and specializing in theatre, opera and French-language and other European originated drama, it is a channel for young adults (similar to BBC Three: sports, sitcom, arts, music and entertainment).
- France 5 – Focuses on societal issues (health, education, politics…) with talk-shows and culture with documentary films.
- 1ère– A network of radio and television stations operating in French overseas departments and territories around the world (formerly known as RFO – Réseau France Outre-mer).
- France Ô – 1ère’s satellite channel, featuring only programming from 1ère’s regions and now broadcast in France on a national scale by Télévision Numérique Terrestre.