Analogue TV broadcasting will end on the night of 7-8 March for over 12 million TV viewers in the Ile-de-France region. Broadcast services provider TDF has invested EUR 10 million in the analogue switch by upgrading from 20 to 50 KW transmitters at the Eiffel Tower, four major antennas and some 40 smaller masts in the area. TV channels will adopt new frequencies to free up the 800MHz band for the mobile internet and to leave room for new channels. France's region by region analogue switch-off is due to be completed at the end of November.
The process has stimulated the TV equipment market, with TV sales up 13 percent to 8.5 million in 2010, according to Simavelec, and DTT STB sales expected to grow 66 percent in volume and 104 percent in value this year, according to GfK. Over 7 million DTT STBs are projected to be sold in 2010 and 2011. The average price of digital-ready TVs has vallen dramatically. New DTT channels have attracted 19.7 percent of viewers, according to Mediametrie, and there share reached around 21.2 percent at the end of January. Historical channels TF1, M6, France 2, etc have seen their combined market share slip to 66.5 percent in January from 69.9 percent in January 2009, and hope to recapture lost viewers when analogue finally ends. Top DTT channels TMC and W9 are already in profit, and NRJ 12, Direct 8 and BFM TV expect to break even this year.
A question mark remains over the government's plan to award three additional DTT channels to TF1, M6 and Canal Plus, the country's three historical private broadcasters. The matter is being studied by the European Commission following complaints from new DTT entrants and would-be entrants.