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France's TF1 posts 8.9% drop in quarterly advertising sales

Logo of French television network TF1 is displayed at Boulogne-Billancourt headquarters near Paris

By Mathieu Rosemain

PARIS (Reuters) -France's largest private television broadcaster TF1 said on Thursday third-quarter advertising sales fell 8.9%, hurt by a strong basis of comparison last year when sales got a boost from the broadcasting of the European soccer championship.

TF1 also pointed to a loss in digital advertising revenue after the sale of Livingly Media and Group advertising sales over the period fell to 327.9 million euros($327.7 million) from 360 million a year earlier.

Consolidated revenue came at 553 million euros in the third quarter, up almost 6% from a year earlier, strongly helped by sales of TF1's TV production subsidiary Newen, behind shows such as "Versailles" and "Plus belle la vie".

The group's parent company Bouygues has for more than a year worked on a plan to acquire a controlling stake in France's second-biggest private TV network M6, before TF1 and M6 gave up last month.

Their merger plan, meant to fend off the rise of U.S. streaming platforms, stemmed from antitrust requests made the deal irrelevant, they said at the time.

TF1 spent 25 million euros in total in 2021 and 2022 to work on the merger plan, Chief Financial Officer Philippe Denery told reporters in a call.

TF1 appointed Rodolphe Belmer as CEO just a week after the deal collapsed.

Belmer, a former boss of Vivendi's Canal Plus and satellite operator Eutelsat, will steer the TV group at a time when competition from Netflix and Disney becomes even and more acute, as the platforms eye ad-supported video streaming.

The group did not provide financial targets for the year.

($1 = 1.0005 euros)

(Reporting by Mathieu Rosemain; editing by David Evans and David Gregorio)