Portrait: But who is Rodolphe Belmer, the new CEO of TF1 who will have the delicate mission of reinventing the channel while the group is in the middle of a storm?

by Pablo Ricard

Former emblematic leader of the rival Canal+, member of the board of directors of the American giant Netflix, the future CEO of TF1 Rodolphe Belmer is a seasoned specialist in television and video streaming, a crucial axis of development for the future of the network. His mission will be “to manage (…) the reinvention of TF1 to face video streaming platforms such as Netflix or Amazon, a source familiar with the matter told AFP. A challenge that the TF1 group must now face alone , after the failure of its merger with M6, announced a week before this reorganization.

“We will be able to (…) respond to the many challenges of the world of new media and open new perspectives of development and growth for the TF1 group in the era” of digital technology, assured Mr. Belmer, quoted in the press of TF1. release announcing his arrival at his head. It will take place in two stages: Rodolphe Belmer, 53, will be proposed first as managing director during a board meeting on October 27, then as chief executive from February 13, 2023, replacing Gilles Pélisson.

“His career at the helm of several of the main French, leading and international groups, his experience in the media and streaming sector are the best assets to face the challenges that lie ahead”, said Mr. Pélisson, quoted in the notice. The future CEO of TF1 has the advantage of knowing the world of streaming video perfectly, since he has been part of the Netflix board of directors since 2018. But it is above all at Canal+ where the name of this man with a wise and small round glasses stay attached. He was CEO, meaning number 2, since 2003, before becoming CEO of the entire group in 2012.

While cited as a possible successor to then number 1 Bertrand Méheut, Belmer was fired from Canal in the summer of 2015. This was seen as a takeover of the encrypted channel by billionaire Vincent Bolloré, its owner through the Vivendi group. . Under the impetus of Rodolphe Belmer, Canal had insisted on the creation of original and ambitious series, such as “Les Revenants”, “Braquo” or “Engrenages”.

The director had also underlined the historical identity of the channel, somewhat lost in previous years, in particular with the installation of the open program “Le grand journal” in 2004 (presented for the first time by Michel Denisot), very much inspired by the show of cult “Nowhere else”.

After his dismissal from Canal, and before Gilles Pélisson was appointed in February 2016, his name was mentioned for the position of CEO of TF1, which will finally fall to him seven years later. Ironically, the announcement comes as Canal+ and TF1 wage a war over the distribution contract for the latter’s channels by the former. Until July, Mr. Belmer was CEO of the French computer group Atos. A position that he only held for six months and that he left amid rumors of disagreements with the chairman of the board of directors Bertrand Meunier. Previously, he was CEO of the satellite operator Eutelsat Communications from 2016 to 2021. Finally, he has been president of the Series Mania Festival since 2019.

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