Macron’s victory in the French presidential elections may soon transform the country’s public media landscape.

Public media in France has been subject of numerous debates in the past year, especially after the public TV Channel FranceInfo risked going off-air due to disagreements between the management and trade unions.

Since then, the argument has been to revolutionise the public media sector in the country in order for it to make it more efficient, while differentiating it from the private and commercial offerings and providing unique content to French citizens.

However, it hasn’t been a bad year for the sector overall, with Radio France reducing its deficit and France Télévision registering an operating profit in 2016 for the first time since 2012. However, with a newly elected president come new measures. 

In his manifesto, the now French President Emmanuel Macron said he wanted tosimplify the audiovisual regulation in terms of advertising, financing, and dissemination to remove obstacles to the growth of broadcasting and audiovisual production”. But what does that mean in practice?

Fewer channels, more efficiency

We will strengthen the public broadcasting sector so that it meets the expectations of all French people and accelerates its digital transformation, concentrating resources on fewer channels but fully dedicated to their public service mission,” said the new President.

This could suggest that the existing smaller channels may be closed in the future or be merged with other existing channels in order to allow for “greater efficiency” and a greater share of resources.

Different regulations

The President also spoke about changes to governance rules and the nomination process of the broadcaster’s presidency. Macron seeks to build on “new status of the press company, modeled on the Anglo-Saxon trusts to guarantee editorial and journalistic independence“. While the public broadcaster’s directors are currently appointed by the Higher Audiovisual Council (CSA), they would now be appointed by the group’s Board of Trustees, following a public call for applications. People from civil society could also be part of the Board.

It isn’t yet clear whether advertising will have a bigger space on public channels, but Macron’s plans might include changes to the law introduced by Sarkozy which removed advertising on France Télévision after 8pm. Advertising might therefore become more liberally placed, although the new President is yet to explain or propose effective changes.

Towards digitalisation

One thing is clear: public broadcasting in France has to become more digital. Macron previously advised that the sector has to “prepare for the digital switchover” and the public broadcaster is already working on its digital resources.

In February the Board of Trustees of France Télévision approved a proposal to launch an on-demand video platform by this autumn, with both paid and free models of subscription. This may also feature the participation of Belgian, Swiss and Canadian public broadcasters. In addition, on Tuesday 9 May, the public broadcaster launched its new video service,, where it provides content for multiple devices in a bid to sustain the creation of video content and fight piracy.

The future of the public media lanscape in France is still unclear, yet under Macron’s presidency the sector has the potential to forego a series of structural and directional changes.

Header image: The building of France Télévisions in Paris. Credits: Patrick Janicek/Creative Commons