Banning Ads from Prime-Time State TV: Lessons from France
We analyse the effects of the advertising ban on French public television, which came into effect on the 5th of January 2009. The ban forbids commercial advertising on public TV in the time slot 20.00-6.00. By using a difference-in-difference approach we show that advertising which was previously broadcasted on public TV in the time slot 20.00-6.00 did not switch to private channels in the same time slot (nor did the price per second in that time slot on private channels rise). Rather advertising partly switched to public TV in the time slot 6.00-20.00. The trend away from aerial towards non-aerial TV channels continued but was not increased. The common expectation that the ban would favour private TV channels at the expense of public ones was therefore wrong. Interestingly, the relative audience of public to private TV did not tilt in favour of public TV. This suggests that advertising aversion is not the driving parameter at work. More likely, for advertisers, viewers of public TV in the slot 6.00-20.00 are closer substitutes for viewers of public TV in the slot 20.00-6.00 than are viewers of private TV channels in the slot 20.00-6.00.
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