The 24th French Victoires de la Musique awards ceremony was a ratings hit, attracting an average of just over three million viewers, or 19.1% audience share, to the live broadcast according to the France 2 channel.

The multi-platinum artist Alain Bashung received three awards during the ceremony at the Paris Zenith, including best male artist, best album for "Bleu Pétrole" (Barclay/Universal) and best live show.

Now 61, he has spent his career singing a pop-chanson repertoire. With 11 trophies won since 1993, he is the most awarded artist in the history of Les Victoires.

Bashung, who is suffering from cancer, had to postpone several dates of his current tour. While receiving his award, he said he hoped that record companies would "remain in a human dimension by making people happy with records."

Camille won for best female artist. Her third album "Music Hole," released in 2008 on Virgin/EMI, is all written in English. In 2006, she won two newcomer categories with the platinum album "Le Fil" (EMI).

Apart from Bashung, only one artist won more than one award: Julien Doré - the winner of the French version of American Idol "Nouvelle Star" in 2007 - won for best video for "Les Limites" and for best newcomer album for "Ersatz" (Jive/Epic).

Other awards at the Feb. 28 ceremony went to Arthur H for pop-rock album for "L'homme du Monde" (Polydor/Universal); Abd Al-Malik for urban album for "Dante" (Polydor/Universal); Rokia Traore for world album for "Tchamantché" (Universal Jazz); newcomer Thomas Dutronc for original song for "Comme Un Manouche Sans Quitare" (ULM/Universal); Vanessa Paradis for musical DVD for "Divinidylle Tour" (Barclay/Universal); Martin Solveig for best electronic artist (Temps D'avance/Universal; hip-hop act Sefyu for best breakthrough act (Because Music); and BB Brunes for best live breakthrough. Brunes' booker is Yapucca Productions.

French veteran Johnny Hallyday was also feted in recognition of his outstanding career.

The 14 Victoires winners were decided by a 1,200-strong industry academy, except the best breakthrough artist category and best original song which were decided by public votes.

The dominance of Universal, whose artists won nine awards, is acknowledged by Victoires president Olivier Lacourt, director of independent label and distributor Discograph. "Universal is dominant in the market, with 35% share, but it is true [the results] magnify their dominancy," he says. Lacourt adds that the organization will look for a way to generate a more balanced awards distribution in the future.

The Victoires have a strong impact on record and concert tickets sales, says Lacourt, but he stresses, "the most important is the live performance, more than getting the award or not. I am sure the Do's performance will have a great impact on their career."

Overall, the ceremony featured 34 live performances, broadcast live on national TV channel France 2 and on national radio France Inter.

Although the ratings were slightly less than the 3.17 million viewers of 2008, a France 2 spokeswoman said the result was satisfying considering the strong programming of competing channel TF1 and the rise of digital channels.

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