M6 Celebrates its 30th Anniversary
On March 1, 1987 at 11:15 AM, Compagnie Luxembourgeoise de Télédiffusion (CLT) launched its own TV channel in France: Métropole Télévision, better known as M6 – the “6” because it was the sixth frequency to be assigned to a channel in France. M6 took over the broadcasting slot of the defunct music channel TV6. Today, 30 years later, M6 celebrates its anniversary – no longer as number six, but as number two in the viewer ratings among audiences aged under 50, and number three among all French audiences, with a market share that has always remained between 10 and 13 percent over three decades. M6 will celebrate these three decades all evening on Mar 7, with everything that it has to offer in terms of shows. And that is quite a lot! But more about that later.
Nicolas de Tavernost - from the beginning with M6
First let’s return to the broadcaster’s exciting beginnings. At the time, Jean Drucker, President du Directoire was the face of the channel, and remained so until Nicolas de Tavernost took over the role in 2000. Like Drucker, de Tavernost had been with M6 from the beginning. He became Deputy Directeur General of M6 in 1987, and Directeur General the following year. On Mar 1 at 11:15 AM, Drucker welcomed viewers to the channel and handed over to RTL presenters Georges Lang and Charlotte Siandre, who presented the first day of broadcasting at M6. Most formats and many of the presenters came directly from Luxembourg during these early days. Since M6 was initially obliged to dedicate 30 percent of its programming to music, it was difficult to compete with the five generalist channels. But the channel used targeted and clever programming to outwit the competition, and quickly took the lead for a few decisive minutes in the ratings, particularly in prime time.
However, in the late 1980s the French television industry believed that there was one channel too many in the competition for a slice of the advertising pie – and most of them had the youngest, sixth channel in mind – M6. But because the channel's strategy of growing in small steps slowly paid off, in the end it was not M6 that exited, but the fifth channel, “La Cinq” in 1992. M6 immediately benefitted from its demise and for the first time in its history closed a year with a profit. At the same time, the broadcaster began the diversification of its products at an early stage, making it a trailblazer in France and beyond for many years. In 1994, M6 was listed on the stock exchange and became an integral part of the French television world.
M6 continued to focus its programming on American series, music and its own magazine shows, such as “Capital” or “Zone interdite,” which are still on the air today. Time and again, the channel pointed the way ahead with its innovative formats. For instance, “Loft Story” 2001 was the first reality show on French television. Many more firsts followed – along with other subsidiary channels: In 2005, M6 was the first to launch a digital channel – W9, which rapidly established itself among young audiences in particular. In 2012 this was followed by a third free-to-air channel, 6ter. There are also Paris Première and Téva.
The history of M6 is closely linked to soccer. The sport has given viewers unforgettable TV moments – and M6 its highest ratings ever. In 2006, M6 broadcast nearly half of the matches of the soccer World Cup in Germany, rehearsing not least for the 2016 European Championship in France, which was watched by an average of 9.7 million viewers per game and achieved a new all-time record of 20.8 million viewers for the final. Never before had M6 had so many viewers as on this evening, when the hosts were beaten by Portugal.
Besides soccer, M6 has developed or acquired numerous formats over the last 30 years, which have grown into guaranteed ratings hits, including major shows like “Nouvelle Star,” “Pékin Express” and “La France a un incroyable talent”; perennial favorites such as “Un dîner presque parfait,” “Scènes de ménages” and “En famille”; the American series “NCIS” and “Prison Break”; the magazine shows “Capital,” “Zone interdite” and “Enquête exclusive”; the cooking and baking shows “Top Chef” and “Le meilleur patissier”; and, of course, the summer hit “L'amour est dans le pré,” among many more.
Karine Le Marchand has hosted “L'amour est dans le pré,” the French edition of the Fremantle Media format “Farmer Wants a Wife,” for eleven years. This one factor that has gone into making her one of the two most popular TV presenters in France. According to repeated polls, the other is her M6 colleague Stéphane Plaza. So, what better than to have these two host the 30th anniversary gala under the heading “30 ans de M6: L'anniversaire surprise” (30 years of M6: A birthday full of surprises).
M6 promises that its birthday celebrations on Mar 7 will be “an unforgettable evening.” The first part starts at 9:00 PM, the second at 11:30 PM – so viewers will need some stamina if they want to watch the anniversary fireworks in full. Karine Le Marchand and Stéphane Plaza will be joined on the show by all the other presenters of the RTL Group channel, who will recall the most powerful, moving and funny moments in the channel's history.
And if that wasn’t enough, the people who have been the faces of M6 for 30 years, will be seen in unusual and surprising roles on Mar 7 – for instance, when they challenge Beyoncé to a dance routine in high heels or a duet with Christophe Willem; when they stage a sequence from the musical “Notre-Dame de Paris” with Hélène Segara or meet stars who made their debut on M6 like Michaël Youn or Matt Pokora; when they form a rock band exclusively for the show, or when Karine Le Marchand is moved to tears as farmers from eleven seasons of “L'amour est dans le pré” present her with a gift in front of the cameras...
Others who will also be at the party in these and other roles are Cristina Cordula, David Ginola, Stéphane Rotenberg, Mercotte, Éric Antoine, Faustine Bollaert, Marc-Antoine Le Bret, Matt Pokora, Michaël Youn, Christophe Willem, Philippe Etchebest, Michel Sarran, Hélène Darroze, Kamel Ouali, Hélène Ségara, Kids United, Bernard de la Villardière, Ophélie Meunier, Bastien Cadeac, Xavier de Moulins, Nathalie Renoux, Norbert Tarayre, Dominique Chapatte, Mac Lesggy, Sophie Ferjani, Jérôme Anthony and Élie Semoun.
Late in the evening, actors from some of M6’s most famous fictional programs, such as the two iconic series “Scènes de ménages” and “En famille,” will join the second part of the birthday gala. They, too, will talk about their favorite moments from their lives with, at and for M6.