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Canal+ predicts profits

Canal Plus chairman Andre Rousselet told shareholders of the giant pay-TV company that 1993 profits should hit an estimated 1.2 billion francs ($ 211 million), a 10% increase from 1992.

Addressing the company’s annual shareholder meeting in Paris June 22, Rousselet predicted that 1993 will see a return to profitability for the film production arm Studio Canal Plus as well as break-even among the network’s foreign subsidiaries in Germany, Belgium, Spain and Africa.

Canal Plus and Carolco

Canal Plus has a 59% stake in Studio Canal Plus, which in turn has an 11.9% share of Carolco. The studio booked an additional provision of 221 million francs ($ 38.9 million) last year as a result of the financial difficulties being experienced by the U.S. production company.

The provisions contributed to Studio Canal Plus ending the year with a net loss of 120 million francs ($ 21 million). Rousselet predicted that following the recently completed management shakeup at the studio and with the worst of the Carolco experience behind it, Studio Canal Plus this year will make profits of around 50 million francs ($ 8.8 million).

Biz still booming

Despite the tough times at the film production arm, Canal Plus’ core business remains vibrant. Subscriptions, which bring in the bulk of annual revenue, continue to rise, with the number of Gallic subscribers set to hit 3.75 million from the current level of around 3.5 million. With subsidiaries in Germany, Belgium, Spain and Africa, Canal Plus’ overall subscription base will hit 5.6 million.

Elsewhere, Canal Satellite, the sat subsid that manages the 10-channel “bouquet” of programs beamed direct-to-home in France, will post 1993 losses of 140 million francs ($ 24 million). Canal Plus has been looking to open up the company to outside investors (Chargeurs took a 20% stake earlier this year) and Rousselet indicated that the web could reduce its share in Canal Satellite to 51 %. Break-even for the satellite operation is expected in 1995.

While in upbeat mood over the state of his company, Rousselet and Canal Plus exex are making it quite clear that they will not give in to industry pressure for a renegotiation of part of the web’s operating contract.

Release-time dispute

In the past few months, suggestions have been coming from the Culture Ministry that the window between theatrical release and Canal Plus be extended from the current 12 months to 18 months. The video industry has been especially keen on the idea, arguing that it would give vid distributors much-needed breathing space. The video window in France is also 12 months.

As Canal Plus has built much of its success on the speed at which it can bring major pix to its subscribers, Rousselet and his team are violently opposed to pushing back broadcasting dates. “If such an idea became reality, it would be so unfavorable to Canal Plus that the very concept of Canal Plus would be called into question,” the web topper told shareholders.

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