No deals on football, Telecom Italia or Bouygues, says Orange CEO Richard

Alan Burkitt-Gray
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Stéphane Richard tells Les Echos that Orange would rather invest in fibre than content

Orange CEO Stéphane Richard has offered outspoken criticism of operators that spend their money on sport and other audiovisual entertainment.

In an interview with French business newspaper Les Echos today he says that Orange prefers to invest in infrastructure, though it will make limited investments in content.

“I prefer to invest in fibre than in football,” Richard told Les Echos.

At the same time Richard said Orange has no plans to seek a deal with media group Vivendi over its investment in Telecom Italia (TIM). And he said Orange is not reviving plans that it had in 2016 to merge with Bouygues Telecom.

“In the short term, there is little scope for rapprochement” with Bouygues, he said. “Vivendi is a mix of content, some of which, like music, are not relevant to Orange. Certainly Vivendi holds 25% of Telecom Italia but we are not interested in taking them back.”

Orange will offer football to its customers, he said, but by doing deals with those companies that buy rights. “If SFR took these rights, they would have to discuss with us the distribution of their programmes because such amounts are impossible to amortise without the Orange customer base,” he said. “I can assure you that if you are an Orange customer you will continue to see football if you like it.”

Orange stopped its sports channel in 2010, he points out in the interview, “but we are investing more today than at the time in content that remains an essential axis of value creation to support our very high-speed offerings”.