France 3

France 3

France 3 is the second largest French public television channel and part of the France Télévisions group, which also includes France 2, France 4, France 5, and France Ô.

It is made up of regional television stations with regional news programs and about 10 hours of regional entertainment and cultural shows every week. The channel also broadcast various national programs and national news made from Paris. The name used to be FR3 or France Régions 3 (France Areas 3) until the beginning of the 1990s.

Prior to the establishment of RFO, it also broadcast to the various French overseas territories.


La Chaîne Couleur (1972-1974)

The Third Channel (Channel 3) started its broadcasts on the 31st December 1972, called 'Couleur 3'. Its Programme Directeur General (PDG) at the time Jean-Louis Guillaud decided to call on the regional television stations of the ORTF and aspiring young television editors to join the new network, which was to be broadcast in colour, without advertisements and continuity announcers.

At the start of its life, Couleur 3 only broadcasted for three hours every day and only covered 26% of the population, its transmissions primarily covering Paris, the 'Ile-de-France' and 'Nord' regions. Its coverage improved and became national at the end of the decade.

Autonomous from the state (1974-1999)

7 October 1974 saw a law reform which saw the ORTF broken up into six separate state-owned companies, one of which was the Société nationale de programme de télévision France Régions 3 (FR3). FR3 was given the responsibility of managing and developing regional television and radio centres:

  • 22 regional television stations (which produce 35 minutes of regional programming)
  • 29 regional radio stations, edited by 11 centres

FR3 was launched on 6 January. Its PDG Claude Contamine decided to orient the channel towards film (examples being 'Cinéma de Minuit' and 'Cinéma 16 1976'), televised discussion and local opt-out programming. 22 March 1975 saw local programming being broadcast daily. One example of such programming- 'Les Jeux de 20 heures'- allowed each region in turn to be showcased nationally, in the format of a presenter in the Paris studio speaking to a presenter in a given regional station. After this programme was aired the State understod the importance of the régions and very slowly undertook measures to decentralise the country administratively and economically, including the regional centres of FR3.

21 October 1981 FR3 broadcast for the first time the ministers questions from the National Assembly. In January 1983 advertising was introduced to the network. In 5 September, its 12 centres of production were producing 3 hours daily of regional programmes. The American drama series Dynasty had its French airing every Saturday in 1984. In 1985 popular children’s show The Disney Channel aired on FR3 every Saturday night and ran for five seasons. (Not to be confused later with Disney Channel). A new regular time for national and local news- 'le 19|20' was broadcast for the first time in 1986 at 7pm until 8pm (or 19h to 20h).

Privatisation...almost (1986-1989)

However in 1986 the then government of Jacques Chirac propsed that one of the three public television companies be privatised. The original suggestion was to turn FR3 into a private body, however the final decision was that of TF1. The broadcasting authority at the time, the CNCL appointed Rene Han to be programme controller of FR3, with the result that the networked programmes took an even more cultural direction. For example Thalassa- le magazine de la mer gained a second weekly programme on Friday nights and an televisied opera aired every Wednesday nights.

Popular quiz show Questions pour un champion made its broadcasting début in November 1998 and La Classe, an entertainment programme which replaced Les Jeux de 20 heures and followed 19|20.

Making the public sector stronger (1989-1990)

The French television landscape at the end of the decade was comprised of a strong private sector in the TF1 and Canal+ channels and a fragmented public sector (Antenne 2 and FR3), so faced with that, the State, through its public body the CSA (Conseil Supérieure de l’Audiovisuel) decided that to reinforce the public broadcasting sector, FR3 would join Antenne 2 under a new public corporation.

In 1990 France 3 gave airtime on Saturday afternoons to the emerging educational network La Sept where it broadcasted until midnight. Saturday mornings were home to its own current affairs programmes Continentales and L’Eurojournal, both presented by Alex Taylor.

The public union (1990-present)

Starting the 7th September 1992 FR3 became France 3 and together with France 2 (ex Antenne 2) formed France Télévisions. In 1998 in a partnership with TPS launched a satellite station called Régions

Between 2000 and 2005 the following public channels La Cinquième (currently named France 5), RFO (together with RFOsat, now called France Ô) and then France 4 joined France 2 and 3 under the France Télévisions corporate umbrella.

Under the direction of 'France Télévisions' président Patrick de Carolis and Director of Channels Patrice Duhamel, in October 2006 a new daily cultural programme called 'Ce soir (ou jamais !)' presented by Frederic Taddei marked the new cultural direction given to the programmes of France 3. Also the evening news programme Soir 3 was given a fixed hour – at 11pm.

At present (2005- )

The channel is home to a diverse range of programming, from the soap operas (Plus belle la vie) to the cookery programmes (Bon appétit bien sûr) and from the cultural (Des racines et des ailles) to the quiz shows (Des chiffres et des lettres).

Another part of the channel is a great emphasis is on the celebration of the country as a whole and on the different regions which make up France (for example Plus belle la vie , a popular soap opera is set in Marseille. Some of its well known programmes can also be seen as part of the schedules of TV5 Monde.

France 3 is now received by Digital Terrestrial Television (fr.- TNT: Télévision numérique terrestre) in % of French homes, each receiving a digital version of the traditional analogue signal.


France 3 is a general entertainment channel which has missions to deliver domestic and regional programming, offering cultural and educational avantages. Its local and regional vocation has been assured by its new mission statement. (« Elle doit privileger l’information décentralisée et les événements régionaux »)Translated it reads:

'It must promote local news and regional events and to introduce and familiarise the different regions of France and Europe and « to give space to our lively spectacles ».'


France 3 was based at 13-15 rue Cognacq-Jay in Paris, which housed the television services of the former Office de Radiodiffusion-Télévision Française (ORTF).

Since TF1 was made independent from the ORTF, FR3 was based at the Maison de la Radio in the XVIe arrondissement in Paris, its editorial base was at 28 Cours Albert 1er in the VIIIe arrondissement.

In 1998 France 3 moved to a new base at 7 Esplanade Henri de France in the XVe arrondissement. This also houses the rest of France Télévisions operations. The headquarters is accessible by taking the RER Line C at Boulevard Victor.


France 3 has less audience constraints when compared to sister channel France 2, with France 2 being the flagship public channel. This allows the channel to concentrate on cultural programming.

Journal télévisé (News bulletins)


12|13 is broadcasted every day at 11.45am Central European Time with the following schedule:

  • 11.45 : National headlines,
  • 11.50 : DOM-TOM edition from the studios of RFO Paris
  • 12.00 le Midi Pile (regional opt-out bulletins)
  • 12.27 National news

Le 12|13 is presented by Stephane Lippert (weekdays) and Catherine Matausch (weekends).


The main evening bulletin, 'le 19|20' broadcasts every day between 6.35pm and 8pm with the following schedule:

  • 6.35- National headlines
  • 6.40- Regional news opt-out or local magazine opt-out
  • 7pm- Regional news
  • 7.30- National news,
  • 7.55pm Local news or regional news round-up.

The national portion is presented by Audrey Pulvar (weekdays) and Catherine Matausch (weekends)

Soir 3

Soir 3 broadcast around the 11pm mark with national and world news, presented by Marie Drucker (weekdays) and Francis Letellier (weekends).

NB. Note that in the United Kingdom some France 3 news items can be seen on ITV Channel Islands programme Rendez-vous dimanche with local news items sourced from France 3 Ouest. In Belgium the local programmes offered by France 3 Nord Pas de Calais Picardie had at times in history twice the amount of viewers than in its intended target area.

Children's shows

Regional structure

From its historical origins, the Third Channel used regional editorial centres which were developed since 1963 and was owned by the ORTF. Often grouped in two levels (a super-region which houses two regions) the regional centres produce a regional news bulletin, along with mini news bulletins covering local areas (For example within the Nord Pas-de-Calais Picardie region, there is a region-wide news bulletin, along with local mini-bulletins for Lille-Metropole, Cote Opale, Arras etc) as well as regional entertainment shows.

Region Name Area Served Centres of production
1. France 3 Alsace Alsace Strasbourg
2. France 3 Aquitaine Aquitaine Bordeaux
3. France 3 Bourgogne Franche-Comté Bourgogne & Franche-Comté Dijon, Besançon
4. France 3 Corse Corsica Ajaccio
5. France 3 Lorraine Champagne-Ardenne Lorraine & Champagne-Ardenne Nancy, Reims
6. France 3 Méditerranée Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Marseille
7. France 3 Nord-Pas-de-Calais Picardie Nord-Pas de Calais & Picardie Lille, Amiens
8. France 3 Normandie Basse-Normandie & Haute-Normandie Caen, Rouen
9. France 3 Ouest Bretagne & Pays de la Loire Rennes, Nantes
10. France 3 Paris Île-de-France Centre Île-de-France & Centre Vanves, Orléans
11. France 3 Limousin Poitou-Charentes Limousin & Poitou-Charentes Limoges
12. France 3 Rhône Alpes Auvergne Rhône-Alpes & Auvergne Lyon, Grenoble
13. France 3 Sud Languedoc-Roussillon & Midi-Pyrénées Toulouse, Montpellier

19|20 Local opt-outs

Within the main 19|20 bulletin, depending on where the viewer receives France 3 via terrestrial transmitters there are recorded local opt-out bulletins concentrating on specific 'communautés'. These opt-outs air at around 7:50PM for a duration of 10 minutes.

France 3 Région Number of 'journal' opt-outs Areas/language served News bureaux
Alsace 2 Deux-Rives,Alsacien language Strasbourg
Aquitaine 4 Pays Basque, Sud-Aquitaine, Périgord, Bordeaux Métropole Bayonne, Pau, Périgueux, Bordeaux
Bourgogne Franche-Comté 0
Corse 0
Limousin Poitou-Charente 3 Poitou Charente, Atlantique, Pays de Corrèze Limoges, La Rochelle, Brive-la-Gaillarde
Lorraine Champagne-Ardenne 3 Lorraine, Champagne-Ardenne, Lorraine Nord Nancy, Reims, Metz
Méditerranée 3 Marseille, Côte Varoise, Côte d'Azur Marseille, Toulon, Nice
Nord-Pas-de-Calais Picardie 3 Côte d'Opale, Lille Métropole, Picardie Bourgogne, Lille, Amiens
Normandie 1 Baie-de-Seine Le Havre
Ouest 4 Estuaire, Haute-Bretagne, Maine, Iroise Nantes, Rennes, Le Mans, Brest
Paris Île-de-France Centre 3 Orléans Loiret, Touraine, Berry Orléans, Tours, Châteauroux
Rhône Alpes Auvergne 4 Alpes, Auvergne, Grand Lyon Lyon, Grenoble
Sud 4 Toulouse, Pays Catalan, Montpellier Quercy-Rouergue, Tarn, Pays Gardois Toulouse, Perpignan, Montpellier, Rodez, Albi, Nîmes



Chairmen and Chief Executive Officers:

General Managers:



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