Salto’s fate hangs by a thread

She was presented as the “French Netflix”. But inexorably, Salto, the common platform for France Télévisions, TF1 and M6 born in October 2020, is getting ever closer to its extinction.

The “dissolution” and the “cessation of activity” were on the agenda of an extraordinary central CSE at France Télévisions, Friday, January 20. Even if this was not the place to record the disappearance of the service (a CSE must be held in Salto in the coming days), the tone of the discussions was not one of optimism, recognizes Antoine Chuzeville, the representative of the SNJ present at the meeting. The question of the return of employees of shareholder companies who left to work for the platform (which has 42 permanent contracts) was in fact addressed there, as well as the possibility for personnel directly hired by the platform to apply in priority for positions within partner groups. The lease of the premises that Salto occupied in Boulogne-Billancourt (Hauts-de-Seine), which expired a few weeks ago, has not been renewed.

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Since in March 2021, the president of France Télévisions Delphine Ernotte announced that her group would sell its shares (for 45 million euros) in the event of a merger between TF1 and M6, the paid video-on-demand service knew it was doomed to rebalance its original shareholding. But the failure of the merger between the two private groups, which led to the appointment of Rodolphe Belmer at the head of TF1, ended up driving the partnership into a dead end.

Different potential buyers

Because not only did the union of La Une and La Six in Salto outside the merger no longer make strategic sense, but the new CEO of TF1 was quick to let it be known that in his eyes, digital distribution content of the group’s channels should, like their linear distribution, remain free… “Like in a game of dominoes, everyone ended up being out”, sums up someone close to the file. The pact that binds the three shareholders allowed everyone to regain their freedom at their convenience. None could have become the sole shareholder: their ex-partners would not have accepted that the rest benefit from their content.

As soon as the partners’ desire to disengage was no longer a mystery, various potential buyers came forward. Canal+, which was eyeing Salto’s 800,000 subscriber base, could it have been its saviour? “Selling a service that works to a competitor was not easy” for partners, reports our interlocutor.

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