French broadcaster M6 is on the auction block.
RTL Group, the European broadcaster that controls just under 50 percent of M6, has confirmed that it is entertaining offers for the French commercial channel after a planned merger between M6 and competitor TF1 fell apart amid antitrust concerns.
Thomas Rabe, CEO of RTL parent Bertelsmann, told the Financial Times that he was “testing the market” for an M6 sale after being “inundated with expressions of interest” when the mega-merger fell through.
RTL and France’s Bouygues Group, which holds a 44 percent stake in TF1, had planned to combine M6 and TF1 to create a supercharged French commercial broadcaster that would have the size and economic clout to be able to compete with deep-pocketed international streamers, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+. But they dropped the deal after French competition authorities said they would only approve the merger if the groups sold off one of the two networks’ flagship channels: either TF1 or M6.
Potential M6 buyers include Stéphane Courbit of production giant Banijay, French media group Vivendi, fast-growing production and sales outfit Mediawan, French maritime transport tycoon Rodolphe Saadé and billionaire investor Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière.
Any sale would reshuffle the power dynamics of the entire European television industry. M6 is the third most-watched TV channel in France and the country’s most profitable private network.