PARIS: French marketers and television executives are digesting a proposal from president Nicolas Sarkozy (pictured) that has nothing to do with his super-model romance and everything to do with scrapping advertising on the country's public-service TV stations.
They would be financed, instead, by a levy on the ad revenues of privately-owned broadcasters, who currently earn around €3.2 billion annually and would pull in even more from extra demand for their airtime.
The government is also looking to tap into the €17 billion ($24.9bn; £12.7bn) in annual revenues earned by France's internet and mobile phone providers - a move that has been fiercely opposed by the industries in the past.
Sarkozy's proposals are part of a blueprint for extensive media reform in France, which would also encompass ownership rules.
He says the changes in ad regulations are intended to create a marked difference between public service and commercial broadcasting.
And he has in mind a BBC-type model to produce quality programming and promote French TV production.
The state-owned France Télévisions group notched up €835m ($1.2bn; £624.7m) worth of ad revenues in 2006, around 40% of its income; the rest comes from a licence fee, similar to that collected from British householders to fund the BBC.
The president also announced France 24, the news channel launched by his predecessor Jacques Chirac just over a year ago, will be merged into a new French-language channel, France Monde, to give a "vision that is more French".
France 24 is broadcast in French, English and Arabic and was designed to present a counterpoint to English language services such as CNN and BBC World.
But, said Sarkozy: "With taxpayers' money, I am not prepared to broadcast a channel that does not speak French."
Data sourced from mandmeurope.com and Data sourced from The Times Online (UK); additional content by WARC staff