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French internet provider backs down over ad-block, minister claims

@ww.free.fr

French internet provider Free has backed down on its threat to block advertising, according to Digital Economy Minister Fleur Pellerin. After meeting company bosses, advertisers and internet-linked companies on Monday, Pellerin said that she had asked Free to drop its plan and that it agreed to do so.

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The way that Free had announced its plan to allow users of its Freebox révolution terminal to block ads on a default setting was “unacceptable”, Pellerin told a press conference on Monday afternoon.

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Advertisers and site managers protested that the move would cut their revenues, while Free reportedly hoped to forge US search engine Google to share more of the burden of server costs.

On Monday Pellerin met online media representatives, along with publishers, advertising companies and advertisers before a second meeting with Maxime Lombardni, the managing director of Free’s parent company Iliad.

The move would have had "serious consequences" for the digital sector's economy, she warned.

“From a political point of view, this block is not compatible with my vision of a free and open internet where the surfer remains the master,” the minister said.

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