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Radio broadcasts on a regular basis began in France in November 1921, transmitted from the Eiffel Tower. In 1923, broadcasting became by law a state monopoly, though certain private stations were permitted. License fees on receivers, initiated in 1933, provided finance for the broadcasts. Television was introduced experimentally during the 1930s, and an embryonic television service began in 1938.

  Antique radio

One of the key problems in French broadcasting after World War II was its relation to the state; at various times it was supervised by the presidency of the council, the ministry (or secretariat) for information, and the ministry for industry and commerce. After a long debate, R.T.F. (Radio-Télévision Française) was finally established by statute in 1959 as a state undertaking with an independent budget, operating under the authority of the minister of information.

In 1964 a new statute established French state broadcasting as the O.R.T.F. (Office de Radiodiffusion et de Télévision Française). The statute described O.R.T.F. as a broadcasting monopoly entrusted to Radiodiffusion-Télévision Française as a public service essential to the national life. The body entrusted with its operation must function efficiently and impartially and satisfy the needs of the public and the higher interests of the nation.

The authority of the minister of information over the director general and his staff was reduced to "power of oversight", while the governing board was composed half of representatives of the state and half of representatives of the press and public. Nevertheless, O.R.T.F.'s money came from license fees collected by the state, which supervised broadcasting expenditure. Government influences remained more evident in French broadcasting than in the parallel case of the BBC in Britain. In 1989 the government formed the Conseil Supérieur de l'Audiovisuel (CSA) to oversee all radio and television.



French radio broadcasting is divided into a number of specialized programs transmitted over three channels: France Inter, a general entertainment and informational program operating round the clock and divided at periods into Inter-Variétés (for adults) and Inter-Jeunesse (for young people); France-Culture, offering literary, philosophical, scientific, and art programs; and France-Musique, broadcasting high-quality music. O.R.T.F. maintains 16 permanent orchestras and choral groups.

Emphasis is also placed on drama, with some 3,000 dramatic and literary broadcasts a year; and on education, including broadcasts to schools, language teaching, and Radio-Sorbonne, designed for students in higher education and those with professional occupations. The news-information section maintains regular programs of news, comment, and discussion. Over 5,400 hours of broadcasting are transmitted overseas annually in 15 languages.

Television is transmitted over two networks, the second of which, initiated in 1964, concentrates mainly on entertainment, while the first is of a more general character. Educational television is correlated with radio broadcasts. Television finance has been assisted by a limited amount of advertising. Color television, using the French SECAM system, has made regular transmissions since October 1967. In more recent years, programming has included an increasing amount of light fare, with a large number of imported films, primarily from the United States. Cable broadcasting was initiated in 1987. Despite the 1992 collapse of La Cinq, the entertainment channel, and the competition of videocassettes, viewers have had an increasing number of options.

Roger Manvell, author of This Age of Communications.
Source: Encyclopedia Americana, Copyright © 2003 Grolier Publishing Company, Inc. All rights reserved.


Canal Plus   Canal Plus
A scrambled channel for fee-paying subscribers, which is also partially financed by commercials. User fee starts at around 28.80 € or $30 a month.

Canal Plus   La Chaine Météo
The weather channel provides 7-day forecasts for France, 50 webcams, traffic delays & accident reports, plus weather conditions in 700 cities worldwide.

France 2   France 2
Like their American counterparts, the French spend much of their time glued to the tube (an average of 3:40 a day). France 2 is one of four public TV networks, financed by government subsidies and advertising.

France 3   France 3
Another public television network. The remaining two, Arte and La Cinquième, are Franco-German channels.

KTO Catholic television   KTO
Catholic television, founded under the auspices of the Archdiocese of Paris, debuted December 1999. Spirituality, faith, documentaries, education, liturgy, prayer and culture.

M6   M6
Following the privatization of the broadcast industry in 1982, French TV channels grew from three to over 30. M6 is one of the commercial television networks, funded only by advertising revenues.

TF1   TF1
Another of the privately-owned, commercial television networks, funded only by advertising revenues.

TV 5   TV5
Associated with the French public broadcasting sector, TV5 is received by 40 million homes in Europe, the Mediterranean basin, Africa, North & South America, and Asia through satellite and cable networks.


Guide to French Radio Broadcasting
Since privatization of television and radio broadcasting was authorized in 1982, a wealth of radio programs have flourished in France, now numbering 450 stations broadcasting on some 2,650 frequencies.

FM Radio Stations (by frequency)

Frequency Name   Frequency Name
87.8 MHz France Inter   97.8 MHz Ado FM
88.2 MHz Générations   98 MHz Radio Enghien
88.2 MHz Paris Jazz   98.2 MHz Radio FG
88.6 MHz France Méditerranée   98.6 MHz Alfa
88.6 MHz Radio Soleil   99 MHz Radio Latina
89 MHz RFI   99.5 MHz AYP
89.4 MHz Radio Libertaire   99.9 MHz O'FM
89.9 MHz Radio TSF   100.3 MHz NRJ
90.4 MHz Nostalgie   100.7 MHz Radio Notre-Dame
90.9 MHz Chante France   100.7 MHz Fréq. protestante
91.3 MHz Chérie FM   101.1 MHz Radio Clasique
91.7 &
92.1 MHz
France Musique   101.5 MHz Radio Nova
92.6 MHz Tropic FM   101.9 MHz Fun Radio
93.1 MHz Radio Aligre-Radio Pays   102.3 MHz Oui FM
93.5 &
93.9 MHz
France Culture   103.1 MHz RMC
94.3 MHz Radio Orient   103.5 MHz Europe 2
94.5 MHz Horizon FM   103.9 MHz RFM
94.8 MHz Radio Communauté   104.3 MHz RTL
94.8 MHz Radio J   104.7 MHz Europe 1
94.8 MHz Judaïque FM   105.1 MHz FIP
94.8 MHz Radio Shalom   105.5 MHz France Info
95.2 MHz 95,2   105.9 MHz RTL2
95.6 MHz Radio Courtoisie   106.3 MHz Paris Plurielle
96 MHz SkyRock   106.7 MHz Beur FM
96.4 MHz BFM   107.1 MHz Radio Bleue
96.9 MHz Voltage FM   107.5 MHz Africa No 1
97.4 MHz Rire et chansons      


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