September 13, 2015 / 10:21 AM / 4 years ago

French culture minister rules out prime time ads on public TV

French Culture Minister Fleur Pellerin attends the Socialist Party's "Universite d'ete" summer meeting in La Rochelle, France, August 29, 2015. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

PARIS (Reuters) - French Culture Minister Fleur Pellerin has ruled out allowing prime time advertising on public TV broadcasters, saying an increase in their funding should come from a slight increase in the TV tax.

Last Tuesday Finance Minister Michel Sapin had raised the possibility of letting loss-making public broadcasters air advertising during prime time hours.

The suggestion sent share prices tumbling in private broadcasters TF1, M6 and NextRadioTV and prompted them to write to Prime Minister Manuel Valls to express their concern that they risked being deprived of revenue.

Pellerin said in an interview with weekend newspaper Journal du Dimanche that she took to heart their concerns and did not want to weaken private broadcasters or other media.

“Private channels must have the means to contribute to the diversity of news sources and program creation, especially in terms of financing film,” she said.

She said that a tax on owning a television, which is used to finance public broadcasters, would be raised by one euro next year, which she said was in line with inflation and the smallest increase since 2008.

Meanwhile, a tax paid by internet service providers like Orange, Iliad and Numericable-SFR would be raised to 1.2 percent of their sales from 0.9 percent to help finance public broadcasters, she said.

“Once again the sector is being treated as a cash cow,” said a spokeswoman for Orange.

The Socialist government is currently drafting the 2016 budget, which it is due to present on Sept. 20.

Reporting by Leigh Thomas; Additional reporting by Emmanuel Jarry; Editing by Greg Mahlich

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