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Office de Radiodiffusion Télévision Française

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Office de radiodiffusion-télévision française
TypeÉtablissement public à caractère industriel et commercial
HeadquartersMaison de la Radio
116, avenue du Président-Kennedy 75016
OwnerGovernment of France
Key people
Jacques-Bernard Dupont
Jean-Jacques de Bresson
Arthur Conte
Marceau Long
Launch date
June 27, 1964
DissolvedJanuary 5, 1975
Radio stations
ReplacedRadiodiffusion-Télévision Française
Replaced by

The Office de radiodiffusion-télévision française (ORTF; lit.'French Broadcasting and Television Office', or French Radio and Television Broadcasting Office) was the national agency charged, between 1964 and 1975, with providing public radio and television in France. All programming, especially news broadcasts, were under strict control of the national government.[1][2]



In 1945, the provisional French government established a public monopoly on broadcasting with the formation of Radiodiffusion Française (RDF). This nationalisation of all private radio stations marked the beginning of a new era of state-controlled broadcasting in France. As part of its mandate, the RDF also established a 441-line television station known as Télévision française. This station made use of the frequencies previously utilized by the Nazi-operated Fernsehsender Paris.

In 1949, the RDF underwent a name change to Radiodiffusion-Télévision Française (RTF) in order to reflect the organisation's growing focus on television broadcasting. By the end of the year, the RTF had begun transmitting television signals using the new 819-line system, which represented a significant advancement in the technical capabilities of the medium. This development allowed for the transmission of high-quality television signals and paved the way for the widespread adoption of television in France.

ORTF era[edit]

In 1964, the RTF was reformed and renamed into the ORTF. The ORTF aimed to modernise the public broadcasting service in order to better satisfy the needs of the French public in terms of information, culture, education, and entertainment. Despite this goal of modernisation and an expressed commitment to meeting the diverse needs of the public, the ORTF continued to operate under a monopoly.

From the beginning, the public broadcaster experienced fierce competition from the "peripheral stations": French-speaking stations aimed at the French public but transmitting on longwave from neighbouring countries, such as Radio Monte Carlo (RMC) from Monaco, Radio Luxembourg (later RTL) from Luxembourg, and Europe 1 from Germany (exceptionally, in 1974, RMC was allowed to set up a transmitter on French territory).

In October 1967, colour television was introduced on the 625-line second channel. In 1968, advertising was introduced on both television channels, although the 'redevance audiovisuelle' (Broadcasting licence fee) remained in place.

ORTF employees participated in the May 1968 strikes.

In 1970, during a press conference, Georges Pompidou initiated a will to modernise, affirming that information provided to the ORTF must be free from any outside influence, independent in nature, and impartial in its presentation while stressing that it remains "the voice of France whether we like it or not. "[3]

A third television channel started broadcasting in December 1972.


The election of Valéry Giscard d'Estaing in 1974 prompted yet another reform. The new liberal administration considered the ORTF to be a relic of Gaullist rule. Furthermore, the ORTF's annual budget had grown to an unsustainable 2.4 billion francs per year (approximately €2 billion in 2022), indicative of the organization's overly centralised structure. As a result, on December 31, 1974, law 74-696 (dated August 7, 1974) was implemented, splitting the ORTF into seven successor institutions:

  • Télévision Française 1 (TF1)
  • Antenne 2 (now France 2)
  • France Régions 3 (FR3) (now France 3)
  • SFP - Société Française de Production (programme production)
  • INA - Institut National de l'Audiovisuel (archives)
  • TDF - Télédiffusion de France (transmission)
  • Radio France - (Société Radio-France) French national and international radio

The changes however did not go into effect until January 6, 1975. Despite the dissolution of the ORTF, the public broadcasting monopoly continued to exist until 1981.

Today only INA and Radio France exist in their original form from 1975. Both TDF and TF1 were privatised (the latter sold to the Bouygues construction company) in 1987. The operations of Antenne 2 and FR3 were re-merged in the early 1990s, into a single entity known today as France Télévisions, which still remains under public ownership. SFP was privatized in 2001 and is now a part of Euro Média France.


The design of the ORTF logo was mostly influenced by the "three ellipses" symbol of its predecessor, with the addition of the letter "O" to create a fourth ellipse. The logo evokes both the concept of radio waves and an image of an electron, symbolising the Atomic Age.

The ORTF logo prominently appeared during the startup and closedown sequences of their television channels.


When it was dissolved in 1975, the ORTF operated 3 national radio networks, 23 regional radio stations, and 3 television channels in Metropolitan France. 13 of the regional radio stations later became stations of the France Bleu radio network. The other 10, each of which were music only stations, became Fip. It operated an additional 8 radio stations and 7 television stations in the overseas territories.

Metropolitan France[edit]

National radio[edit]

Regional radio[edit]

  • Paris
  • Marseille
  • Reims
  • Lorraine
  • Bordeaux
  • Lyon
  • Côte d'Azur
  • Lille
  • Toulouse
  • Loire-Atlantique

National television[edit]

Regional television[edit]

Map of ORTF regional channels

The ORTF also operated 11 regional television services that provided programming for all three channels:

Overseas Territories[edit]


  • Radio Saint-Denis
  • Radio Saint-Pierre et Miquelon
  • Radio Guadeloupe
  • Radio Nouméa
  • Radio Martinique
  • Radio Tahiti
  • Radio Guyane
  • Radio Comores


  • Télé Martinique
  • Télé Guadeloupe
  • Télé Réunion
  • Télé Tahiti
  • Télé Nouméa
  • Télé Guyane
  • Télé Saint-Pierre et Miquelon

The overseas stations were given to FR3 as part of the dissolution, and today form part of the La Première network.

Membership of the European Broadcasting Union[edit]

In 1950 the ORTF's predecessor, RTF, had been one of 23 founding broadcasting organisations of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). Upon the break-up of the ORTF in 1974, French membership of the EBU was transferred to the transmission company TDF, while TF1 became a second French active member. A2, FR3, and SRF became supplementary active members before eventually becoming full members in 1982. In 1983 the French public broadcasters' membership was transferred to a joint organisation, the Organisme français de radiodiffusion et de télévision (OFRT). Nine years later, the OFRT was succeeded by the Groupement des Radiodiffuseurs Français de l’UER (GRF) which currently holds one of the French memberships of the EBU, alongside Europe 1.

TF1 left the EBU in 2018. Private TV channel Canal+ served as an additional member between 1984 and 2018.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ J.F.V. Keiger, France and the World since 1870 (2001) p 39.
  2. ^ Raymond Kuhn (2006). The Media in France. Routledge. pp. 70–180. ISBN 9781134980536.
  3. ^ "Naissance et disparition de l'ORTF". ina.fr/. Retrieved 17 February 2020.