Andre Rousselet, founder of the French film and television network Canal+ and former close friend of the late president Francois Mitterrand, died on Sunday at his Paris home, his family said. He was 93.
"He died peacefully at his home," Philippe Rousselet, one of his sons, told AFP.
President Francois Hollande led the tributes for the entrepreneur, praising his business intuition and recalling his loyal friendship to Mitterand.
"Andre Rousselet turned his life into a great adventure," Hollande said.
After founding Canal+ in 1984, Rousselet stepped down as chairman a decade later in protest over a shareholder pact which saw advertising giant Havas, the utilities firm Compagnie Generale des Eaux and the Societe General bank taking effective control of the premium pay television channel.
He placed the blame squarely on the influence of rightwing premier Edouard Balladur.
Canal+ breathed new life into France's audiovisual sector, becoming the principal financier of French-made films. It is currently owned by media and telecoms giant Vivendi.
"Without Rousselet's intelligence, without his fighting spirit and his obstinacy, Canal+ wouldn't exist," said Jack Lang, a former socialist culture minister and current president of the Arab World Institute in Paris.
"Canal+ invented so many things... it was and still is the lungs of (French) cinema," he said.
Rousselet was also a close friend of Mitterand, who served as president between 1981 and 1995 and whom he knew for four decades. On his death in 1996, Rousselet served as the executor of his will.
Rousselet also had a brief venture into the print world, with a short-lived weekly in the mid 1970s called Sport Magazine and a daily newspaper called InfoMatin which first appeared in 1994 but closed two years later.