France could scrap public TV advert ban, says budget minister

France could scrap a television advertising ban on the state-owned broadcaster if EU authorities rule against a tax levied to raise funds to compensate the group for lost revenue, the country’s budget minister said on Thursday.


Published: Thu 23 Aug 2012, 5:16 PM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 9:53 AM

France Televisions was banned from running any advertisements after 8 p.m. in 2009, prompting accusations that then-President Nicolas Sarkozy was helping private television groups at the expense of the public broadcaster.

A tax was then levied on telecoms firms to raise money to offset France Televisions’ losses.

The European Commission questioned the legality of the tax which, according to U.N. agency the International Telecommunications Union, raises about 400 million euros ($499 million) a year.

The Commission has asked the European Union’s Court of Justice to rule on whether the tax flouts rules that say levies on telecoms operators should be directly linked to funding of regulation in the telecoms sector.

France must raise 33 billion euros in 2013 to meet its state deficit-shrinkage target and Budget Minister Jerome Cahuzac made it clear he would not welcome France Televisions placing any extra burden on the public purse.

“If the tax were censured my recommendation to the president (Francois Hollande) would be to allow a return of advertising,” Cahuzac said in an interview on RMC radio. “We’re not going to create yet another tax.”

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