Government shortens time to combat piracy

MADRID — Gaul’s government is shortening the window between theatrical and DVD release from six months to four.

The change, announced by culture minister Christine Albanel, is designed to combat piracy.

France’s theatrical-to-DVD window is roughly twice the Western European average.

The contraction is a consumer carrot just before the National Assembly debates the anti-piracy Creation and Internet bill Tuesday.

It comes as the Gallic DVD biz shows startling signs of longterm decline. The market has lost 20%-plus of its value over the last four years.

“That’s a very significant decline. DVD’s no longer new and exciting, it’s part of day-to-day life,” said Helen Davis Jayalath, head of video at London-based entertainment industry analysts Screen Digest.

The combined retail and rental revenues for the DVD market in 2008 dropped 23% to e973 million ($1.2 billion) from $1.6 billion in 2004, when Europe’s DVD market peaked, according to Screen Digest figures.

The six-month DVD window meant many Hollywood summer blockbusters missed Christmas season release.

Although Europe’s Blu-ray sales are picking up — Blu-ray sales were worth $38 million in France last year — Davis Jayalath said: “Consumer electronics is probably not the way everybody will be looking to spend their money. The industry will have to work hard to convince the mass market to adopt Blu-ray.”

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more