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France TV to renegotiate contracts

Gallic pubcaster aims to curb production costs

CANNES — Gallic pubcaster France Televisions, one of the mainstays of French TV production, will renegotiate production contracts for the upcoming 2008-09 season.

The move, announced in a press statement, will send a frisson through the French industry, as it begins to arrive in Cannes for the MipTV market.

France Televisions’ crackdown on productions came as a response to a report on the Point.fr website, claiming that some producers enjoyed up to 70% profit margins on productions made for France Televisions.

Declining to comment on the report, the pubcaster did confirm that it would use audits of production costs to “renegotiate” with producers.

Budgets on some light-entertainment shows had already been “reviewed significantly downwards compared to previous years,” it added.

France Televisions lost all primetime advertising starting in January.  

In late Jan., France Televisions general director Patrice Duhamel had calmed concerns about a plunge in French fiction commissions when he announced at the Intl. Festival of Audiovisual Programs that the pubcaster wouldn’t “cut investment in French fiction programs to make up for the ad drop.” 

It had been known, however, that state TV was playing hardball on financial terms even for flagship fiction productions.

Its new cost controls  look set to ensure only limited profit margins at production houses co-prodcing with the pubcaster. 

“It’s not surprising that France Televisions is trying to drive down costs. All French broadcasters are trying to do that,” said one industry insider.

“French advertising revenues are going down, which means producers have to make cheaper programs,” he added.

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