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French distribs in digital protest

Group concerned by growth of alt content

BRUSSELS — Independent film distributors in France are protesting against the growth of alternative content in digitally equipped theaters.

In a statement issued Thursday, they threatened to hold back their contribution to digital conversion costs unless movies get protection from being squeezed out.

Threat comes from DIRE (Distributeurs independants reunis europeens), a group of 11 independent distributors, which includes companies such as Memento Films, Pyramide Distribution, Rezo Films and Wild Bunch Distribution.

The group is particularly annoyed by cinema screenings of TV program “Nouvelle Star” (the local “American Idol”) on Wednesday evening, the night that new films traditionally open in Gaul.

Prospect of extensive big-screen coverage of World Cup soccer at prime viewing times is also a concern.

Models for digital conversion in France demand most of the costs from distributors, while “considerable” revenue from alternative content remains outside the calculation, the group says.

“Not only do our films risk being squeezed out of the most important screening slots thanks to projectors that we have in large part been forced to pay for, but their value risks being severely undermined and cinema trivialized.”

In the absence of strict limits on the screening of alternative content, the group says that it will not support obligatory contributions to digital conversion costs.

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