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INDUSTRY France

Lynchpin Canal+ weathers the storm

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- Relief for the French film industry following the victory of its number-one backer in a critical battle to secure its future football rights

Lynchpin Canal+ weathers the storm

A football-scented wind has threatened to shake the very core of French cinema funding. Last Friday, the industry enthusiastically welcomed the victory of Canal+ after it had faced off against Qatari company BeIN Sports in an advance bidding war for broadcasting rights for the French football championship for 2016-2020.

Private pay-TV channel Canal+ is the number-one backer of the French film industry. Legally, it has to dedicate at least 12.5% and 9.5% of its annual funds to purchasing broadcasting rights for European cinematographic works and French-language titles. It is required to dedicate at least 80% to pre-purchases, at least 75% to independent productions and at least 17% to films with a budget lower than or equal to €4 million. In 2013, Canal+ thus pre-purchased 126 French films (113 majority productions and 13 minority ones) for an overall total of €160.44 million. Also, Canal+’s investments covered 16.7% of the estimated costs of the films funded by the channel in 2013.

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Given that football is a core, flagship product contributing to the high subscription levels of Canal+ (which has almost five million subscribers) and given the dizzying potential price competition of the Qataris (with around 1.5 million subscribers for BeIN Sports), the funding model of the French film industry would have been seriously shaken to the core if Canal had been defeated. This is all the more true if we take into account the fact that the possible autumn arrival in France (but no doubt via a headquarters in Luxembourg) of American heavyweight Netflix represents another not insignificant destabilising factor in an already strained situation for French film production, with a sharp fall in shooting at the start of 2014 (read the news) and myriad reports demanding the consolidation and reform of the French model (see news). These represent a great many signals that will undoubtedly lead to decisions being made by the Minister of Culture, Aurélie Filippetti, who was reappointed in the role last week.

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(Translated from French)

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