Patrick Le Lay, head of France’s top-ranked network TF1 and the digital platform Television Par Satellite, has lashed out at the French pay TV group Canal Plus for allegedly hogging French films for itself.
In the latest episode in a long-running tiff between Canal Plus and TPS, Le Lay wrote to the Centre National de Cinematographie (CNC), France’s ministry of film, accusing the pay TV group of operating a deliberate “policy” to block its rival’s access to pics.
Last year, a French court fined Canal Plus — which helps finance 80% of French output — $1.5 million for abusing its dominant position through exclusivity deals with producers.
After that it seemed that Canal Plus, which traditionally shows films 12 months after their theatrical release, would have to live with a “second window,” in which TPS would be allowed to show films. Terrestrial broadcasters get the titles one or two years later.
Le Lay, however, claims that Canal Plus is now offering many producers a third window on the pay TV channel, after terrestrial screening, as an incentive to stop them making a second window deal with TPS, the daily Les Echos reported Thursday.
The debate is taking place against a backdrop of negotiations between Canal Plus, TPS and producers. The pay TV group, which is obliged to invest 9% of its annual revenues in French production, has reached agreement with the industry’s major organizations. TPS, however, is stalling, and many producers fear that TPS does not have the financial clout to support them on its own.