France Televisions President Delphine Ernotte Urges New Shared Streaming Service: ‘We’re Stronger Together’

Facing greater international competition alongside smart TV interfaces that grow all the more convoluted, France Televisions president Delphine Ernotte issued a clarion call to Gallic broadcasters: It’s time to launch a new shared streaming platform that could offer a single point of access for local programing.

‘We’re stronger together,” said the public broadcasting exec. “I don’t have much faith that we can stand shoulder to shoulder with [international services] while all off in our own corners. That’s not how things work anymore.”

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Speaking at a Series Mania keynote moderated by Variety’s International Editor Elsa Keslassy, Ernotte reflected on the “strategic mistakes” that hamstrung Salto – a joint service launched by TF1, M6 and France Televisions that folded last year.

Though Salto launched as a paid service due to TF1 and M6’s existing commitments, Ernotte took solace in those partners’ recent contract renegotiations and inspiration from the U.K.’s Freely as she renewed her push for a one-stop-shop.

At the same time, both M6 and TF1 are readying standalone services, with M6+ set launch later this year and TF1+ aiming for an international rollout in 2025. In light of those plans, Ernotte doubled down in her call for a more streamlined option.

“[The partners behind Freely] said forget our own platforms, because if we don’t, we’ll kill the baby before it’s even born,” said Ernotte. “If we want our national media to exist — to continue sharing all the voices and creators that are fundamental to our cultural life — we can’t have 36 solutions.”

Ernotte hit a similar tone when giving a thumbs-up to the French Minister of Culture’s recent proposal to create a joint holding company that would bring together France Télévisions and Radio France, arguing that greater coordination and cooperation was the way to go, while defending a trans-platform public broadcasting remit.

“People now listen to podcasts on their TVs, and [parents] will be happy to have access to cartoons in their cars,” she said. “So it’s clear that we, as public services, need to be able to adapt to our listeners and viewers. And for that too, there’s strength in numbers.”

Ernotte spoke with equal passion about parity initiatives both on set and onscreen. Though French law bars any explicit quota system, the public broadcaster has made strides in recent years, seeing its percentage of female directors double from 18 to 35%. The broadcaster follows a similar path by way of programing, taking into account diversity by way of class, origin and geography as well.

“Our viewers themselves demand this kind of diversity,” said Ernotte. “As a public service, we have to represent the widest swath of our society on our sets and in our programs… [And] as the biggest financier of fiction in France today, we have a unique responsibility.”

As to the question of AI – a key topic at this year’s forum, and a subject of many panels –Ernotte both encouraged the journalists and creatives under her watch to appropriate the new tools while urging for EU legislation to protect those very same professions, and promising to lead the charge.

“The [new] economic model is an existential issue,” said Ernotte. “Preserving creative copyrights [in the face of generative AI] is a battle we’re going to fight on a European scale. Because if we don’t know how to finance creators, and if we don’t know how to finance journalists, then we won’t have any more news and we won’t have any more French creation.”

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