Show will air on its premium pay service

In a boost for the Gallic TV industry, France Telecom Orange plans to produce TV series for its upcoming five-channel premium pay TV service, Orange Cinema Service.

FT-Orange will co-produce series with producers or access them via pre-buys, Herve Payan, Orange’s senior VP partnerships and services, told Daily Variety at Mipcom.

OCS wants to screen edgy upscale French series and sitcom half-hours akin to the HBO skeins it will bow on the OCS bouquet. The problem, said Payan, is that little of this content exists in France.

FT-Orange will start with short formats, which could also play on OCS’ mobile TV and Internet services, before moving to longer-running series, said OCS veep Guillaume Jouhet.

OCS has already locked up content in exclusive multiyear deals with Warner Bros. Intl. TV, HBO and MGM. And it wants to buy mini-packages of foreign films or single titles, acquiring pay TV rights and working with indie French distributors on their all-rights acquisitions for France.

FT-Orange has also purchased Australian skein “Underbelly,” about the 1995-2004 Melbourne gangland war, said Jouhet.

Regarding its  acquisition of firstrun pay TV rights on movies, Payan said FT-Orange “is not in a rush” to ink any more multiyear deals with U.S. studios. OCS’ target is 75 firstrun titles a year, he added

Last week in Paris, FT-Orange announced a 10-pic deal with Gallic distributor SND that will kick off with the movie “Michael Clayton.”

The telco wants to do deals with other French distributors, said Jouhet.

FT-Orange’s move into movies could help the local film market. A key consideration for distributors buying a movie is whether they will be able to sell it on to paybox giant Canal Plus. A rejection from Canal Plus can stymie a pickup for France.

Gallic distribs now have another door to knock on for pay TV finance to bankroll their pickups.

OCS bows Nov. 17 in France at E12.70 ($17.40) a month.

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