The digital transition is almost complete in France, five years after the launch of DTT. After undergoing an audience share decline, TF1's share is stabilising. In contrast, M6 improved its audience share during the transition. Both groups are likely to remain dominant in the FTA TV market, thanks to the partial withdrawal of public TV from advertising sales

The advertising recovery in 2010 was strong. Thanks to its diversification, M6 is less exposed to the cycle than TF1, which is rebounding more strongly. M6 is also structurally more profitable

Pay-TV platform growth has stalled, with subscription decline at Canal+ somewhat balanced by growth of low cost packages of IPTV providers. Canal+ will benefit from the withdrawal of Orange from premium TV and a new distribution deal with Orange. Combined with the roll out of new set-tops with PVRs, we are moderately optimistic on Canal+ prospects

European mobile revenue growth improved by 0.8ppts in Q3 to reach -0.3%, but all of this improvement and more was due to easing regulatory pressures, with underlying growth actually declining marginally

GDP growth continues to improve year-on-year, but in the current low confidence environment underlying mobile revenue growth is not (yet) responding. Smartphone sales are surging, but their net impact on revenue is hard to discern

Looking forward, the regulatory impact is likely to turn negative again for the next few quarters, so some underlying growth catch-up is required for revenue growth to stay at around zero

Vivendi is close to being in a cash position to buy out minority shareholdings in SFR and Canal+, shedding the image of a ‘conglomerate’ of partly owned and diverse assets, which has weighed on valuation Acquiring Vodafone’s 44% stake in SFR (now only a question of price) would allow Vivendi to rebrand itself as a telecoms story, serving France, with Maroc Télécom and mainly Brazil’s GVT supplying the upside To fully acquire Canal+, Vivendi’s offer will need to consider Lagardère’s option of floating its 20% stake. Owning 100% of Canal+ and SFR opens the narrative of a ‘French media/telecoms champion’ – which we find less credible

H3G Group’s reported results claimed strong growth and rapidly improving profitability, but, taking out the effect of an accounting change, an acquisition and some one off income, underlying revenue was flat and profitability improved only marginally
The parent company is still guiding to positive EBIT from the H3G group for the full 2010 year, but this will require either further creative accounting or very strictly controlled spending on subscriber acquisition, at the expense of future revenue growth
H3G UK’s revenue fell 9% in the half, although profitability improved with very weak contract net adds probably caused by a restricted SAC budget. With demand for smartphones surging H3G UK is in a potentially strong position, but without a substantial marketing and SAC budget it cannot take advantage

H3G Group organic service revenue growth was just 0.2% in Europe in 2009, with EBITDA now roughly breakeven and cashflow remaining firmly stuck in negative territory, and lower subscriber net adds driving most of the EBITDA improvement

H3G UK is outperforming the UK market, but only just, and remains loss-making. Its prospects for 2011 are good, with its network share roll-out likely to have been completed and lower termination rates likely to be implemented, and the Orange/T-Mobile merger could provide significant long term benefits, but it will still require significant investment to gain scale

H3G Australia is now a sound business after the merger with Vodafone Australia, but all of the European businesses are sub-scale, with significant further investment and/or M&A activity required to reach sustainable profitability