French TV is about to change: What you need to know

Are you ready for this evening’s Great Digital Terrestrial Television Takeover in France? No, aliens aren’t coming to steal your TV. It's just going to get a major upgrade.

French TV is about to change: What you need to know
Photo: AFP

Tellies in France are making the transition to High Definition. For viewers, this is good news: it means a clearer picture and better sound.

So if you happen to be watching TV in France in the very early hours of Tuesday morning, don’t be alarmed when all 1,600 transmissions come to a halt for a few hours. 

But how does it work exactly? What will be different? What do you need to do to prepare?

Read on for all you need to know about the big switch. 

What’s going to happen?

During the night of April 4th, households with a TV will receive all 25 DTT (Digital terrestrial television) channels in HD, at no extra cost.

If you're trying to watch a show in the wee hours of the morning, you'll just see a black screen. Although everything should be back to normal early on Tuesday morning, some viewers will need to allow a scan to save the new location settings.

An announcement of the upcoming switch. Photo: AFP

What will change?

The 25 TNT channels will now be available to everyone for free in crisp high-definition.

Up until now, four channels have been broadcast in Standard Definition as well as HD (TF1, France 2, M6, Arte), six are shown only in HD (HD1, L’Equipe 21, 6ter, Numéro 23, RMC Découverte, Cherie 25) and the 15 remaining channels only in Standard Definition. As far as paying channels, Canal + Cinéma, Canal + Sport and Planete + will also be switching to HD. 

As an added bonus, LCI will become a free channel.

What do I need to do?

If you have TNT via a internet box or by cable then the switch will be automatic and there's no need to worry, but if you have the old TV aerial then you'll need to buy separate equipment.

For low-income families, assistance is available up to €25, as well as home help for the elderly and disabled. Assistance of up to €250 is available for help with reception, in case you are unable to receive channels after April 5th.

Why the switch?

Apart from better image quality, TNT HD compresses the television signal in order to free up space in 4G networks for cell phones. The state sold these frequencies to the phone companies in November of 2015 for €2.8 billion.

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Is Cyril Hanouna the most unpleasant person on French television?

French TV presenter Cyril Hanouna's name has been causing a splash with the French and foreign press since Thursday, after a TV prank in which he targeted gay men live on air became just the latest in a series of scandals associated with the host.

Is Cyril Hanouna the most unpleasant person on French television?
Photo: AFP
Presenter of the hugely popular show, Touche pas à mon poste — which airs at primetime Monday to Friday on channel C8, Hanouna's name has become synonymous with behaving badly on air.
Here's a look at some of top scandals involving Hanouna and his hit show:
1. Bullying disabled people
One of the presenter's first big scandals to cause the state broadcasting authority in France (CSA) a headache was during the 2015 Eurovision song contest.
After watching a clip of one of competing entries — a group made up of members suffering from autism and down's syndrome — one of Hanouna's guests responded, “We're going to screw the Down's Syndrome people.”
2. Repeated homophobia
The current scandal is not the first case of homophobia on the show. In December, the French association of LGBT journalists (AJL) claimed that Hanouna was “obsessed with homosexuality”.
The presenter and panelists on the show brought up the subject of homosexuality 42 times across 20 shows in November, “often to laugh about it in a disparaging manner”, the group said.
3. The “breast-kissing scandal”
In October 2016, Hanouna's name was all over the media when one of his guests kissed a woman's breasts live on the air.
During the live broadcast of a special 35-hour long version of his show, the TV host encouraged one of his guests, journalist Jean-Michel Maire, to kiss a female guest on the cheek.
She refused, turning her head away, so instead Maire plants a kiss on her breasts.
Naturally the programme was condemned by many, including women's rights organisations, but the woman in question defended Maire's actions.

4. Humiliating routines
Many viewers complained about the humiliation and indignity of a skit inspired by the “Wheel of Fortune”.
Entitled “Roux de la Fortune” (playing on the similarity between the French words for “wheel” and “red-head”), the skit involved a young man being spun around and offering gifts to guests.
5. Handsy behaviour
Hanouna was filmed navigating the hands of Capucine Anav over his body in a slot on another TV show.
In the film he was seen putting her hands on different parts of his body while she was blindfolded. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Hanouna didn't balk from placing her hands on intimate areas of his body.
Anav expressed her lack of surprise over this in the show.
Homophobic prank lands TV presenter in hot water