Universal Music France CEO Pascal Nègre has put an end to his company's involvement in the controversial local practice of linking artists with radio stations.

Universal Music France CEO Pascal Nègre has put an end to his company's involvement in the controversial local practice of linking artists with radio stations.

Under a system unique to the French music industry, stations' logos are featured in label television advertisements, with taglines such as "Black Eyed Peas, an NRJ act."

The system was originally conceived by Nègre to guarantee artists stronger support from radio stations, which in turn would nefit from free television promotion.

However, Nègre says, these agreements have become too restrictive. "When a station is the partner of an artist, other stations consider that they don't have to play that artist," he says in a letter explaining his decision to broadcasters. Nègre aims to put stations on level ground in terms of access to artists.

Roberto Cuirleo, programming director of NRJ, France's leading pop radio network, decries the move. "This decision will precipitate the uniformization of playlists in France by allowing any given title to get onto all of the stations at once," he says.

Still, Cuirleo does not expect Nègre's decision to be particularly damaging to NRJ, despite Universal's position as one of the biggest television advertisers in France. "Television partnerships have lost their meaning," Cuirleo says. "For example, just after a Universal ad for the Black Eyed Peas with our logo, you get an ad for a compilation including the Black Eyed Peas, but on another label and with a different radio partner."

As for other record companies, Cuirleo says, "They've been calling us to say they'll continue doing these partnerships."