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Sports Minister warns against pay-television approach to French Open rights

France’s Sports Minister, Valerie Fourneyron, has warned the French Tennis Federation (FFT) that the French Open tennis grand slam must remain on free-to-air television as the federation prepares to launch a tender for its next rights contract.

The Journal du Dimanche newspaper reports the FFT is to launch a tender in September for the 2014-17 period, with pay-television broadcaster beIN Sport linked with a bid for the rights.

Public-service broadcaster France Télévisions pays €15.5m ($20m) per year for its current contract for the French Open, which runs from 2010-13.

Fourneyron said the French Open “must be accessible to all” on television. She warned the FFT against a “short-term oriented vision by accepting a lot of money but shooting itself in the foot for the future”. The Sports Minister added: “Roland Garros would lose its appeal. There would be many fewer viewers, because all the French people cannot afford a pay channel.”