In a tweet, French President Emmanuel Macron has asserted his wish to see linear DTT channel France 4 continue broadcasting, mixing youth and cultural programming. France 4 was set to close on August 19th, after winning a one-year reprieve in 2020, and to be replaced by a fully-digital and on-demand offering.
“A channel of animation and educational programming, France 4 has taken on a special place in people’s homes since the pandemic. I want it to continue its mission around two axes: youth during the day, culture in the evening, to extend the success of the Culturebox experience,” he tweeted.
This was an unexpected development in the France 4 saga which has been rallying the animation professional sector, as well as many parliamentarians, over the last three years since the French government decided on the service’s closure in Spring 2018.
But the pandemic turned France 4 into the biggest classroom in France in 2020. During the successive lockdowns, the channel provided more than 700 hours of school courses and educational content to compensate the learning deficiency for kids and secondary school students distanced from their classrooms. In 2020, France 4 reached 5.8 per cent audience among the 4-14 years old.
The channel’s new editorial mission will mix its offering of animation and educational contents with a cultural orientation that will extend the current Culturebox experience. This new version will be based on the model started May 3rd, with a daytime entertainment and animated offering opening up on a prime-time cultural and live music proposal. Entitled Culturebox, this programming slot is named after the cultural ephemeral digital channel created to compensate for the closure of all cultural sites.
The closure of France 4 gave rise to much opposition in the last three years. Earlier in May 2021, 40 senators from all sides called on MPs to “confirm” an amendment voted by the Upper House to keep the channel alive. This plan was also part of Delphine Ernotte Cunci‘s strategic project when seeking re-election as president of France Télévisions.
However, public broadcaster is submitted to a cost-cutting scheme of €160 million over the 2018-2022 period. In December 2020, the group adopted a balanced provisional budget for 2021, but anticipating a loss of €37.5 million.