French broadcaster TF1 is in preliminary talks with the UK's Carlton Communications, Germany's KirchGruppe and Italy's Mediaset to jointly develop television programming and Internet-related activities, according to French press reports.
TF1 - which already has a 50-50 Internet content venture with Carlton - @lliance - has already announced its intention to become an Internet service provider and portal operator from autumn 2000. The company has created a new subsidiary, eTF1, to group all of its Internet-related activities.
The announcement follows in the wake of a series of mergers and alliances between major European entertaintment, media and communications groups, inspired by the Time Warner-AOL link-up. More recently, Canal Plus chairman and CEO Pierre Lescure suggested a potential alliance between the French pay-TV giant and newly created RTL Group - born of the merger between CLT-Ufa and Pearson's television interests - in the areas of TV production and acquisition. Elsewhere, Spain's Telefonica recently swallowed Dutch TV producer Endemol Entertainment while Mediaset and KirchGruppe are linked through their Epsilon alliance.
Meanwhile, TF1 is also reportedly producing a remake of US title Martians Go Home with French production house Telema in which TF1 recently took a 49% stake (Screendaily, April 18). TF1, a major shareholder in French digital satellite operation TPS, has seen its net earnings jump 46.9% in 1999, and registered revenues of FFr12bn.