NextRadioTV Gains After Regulator Blocks Free LCI Access

NextRadioTV, which operates the TV news channel BFM, rose the most in nine months after the French broadcast regulator blocked plans to make rival news channel LCI free-to-air.

The shares climbed 1.44 euros, or 6.3 percent, to 24.42 euros on the Paris stock exchange today, and earlier gained as much as 8.8 percent, after regulator CSA announced its decision.

Adding another free news channel would hurt existing ones, which are already suffering from falling advertising revenue and financial difficulties, the CSA said in a statement. LCI would have been the third free news channel, alongside NextRadioTV’s BFMTV and ITELE, owned by Canal Plus.

TF1 Chief Executive Officer Nonce Paolini threatened to shut down LCI if it couldn’t be offered for free, according to a report from Les Echos last year.

The decision is “encouraging” news for BFMTV and its 250 journalists, NextRadioTV said in a statement. Canal Plus released a statement saying that the regulator’s decision was “wise and responsible.”

Two other channels, Paris Premiere, owned by M6, and Planete+, owned by Canal Plus, were also denied access to the free-channel market by the CSA.

M6’s Chief Executive Officer Nicolas de Tavernost said he would close Paris Premiere if the channel fails to become profitable and to win an appeal against the CSA’s decision, Agence France-Presse reported.

LCI said in a statement it is studying a possible legal appeal of the CSA’s decision.

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