Recession hurts French TV production

Investment is down 34% on last year

BRUSSELS — Film production in France is standing up to the economic crisis, but TV is taking some knocks, according to the Centre National de la Cinematographie, Gaul’s government-backed film and TV funder.

The CNC conducted this unusual mid-year check to see if the economic slowdown was damaging the industry.

Film production in the first half of 2009 was stable, with 110 films shooting compared to 109 in the same period last year. The slight drop in majority French productions from 86 to 83 is not of concern, the CNC suggested.

Investment is down 34% on last year to 538 million euros ($786 million), but 2008 was not a typical year as it saw three films with budgets over $59 million go into production. CNC is happy with the medium-term trend, with investment in the first half of 2009 up 6.4% on 2007.

Investment in foreign films made in France is particularly strong, slightly down on 2008 but up 28% on 2007 at $136 million.

The disappearance of very large productions has lowered average budgets for majority French films to $7.8 million, against $11.9 million in 2008 and $8.4 million in 2007.

The number of budgets below $1.5 million is also falling year on year.

Shooting days for French productions are down 7.1%, but the drop is higher for work abroad than at home. CNC is satisfied people are not fleeing the country to cheaper locations.

Figures for TV production are dominated by the cancellation of several soaps at the end of 2008. Some 294 hours of fiction were supported by CNC in the first half of 2009, down 48.8% on the same period last year.

Broadcast investment in fiction is down by a similar figure, as is location work in France and abroad.

Toon production is up, which CNC attributes to industry cycles, as is production of cultural magazine programs. Docu production and live entertainment programs are both down.

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