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Canal Plus renewed for five years

France’s giant pay TV service Canal Plus has had its operating contract renewed for another five years.

After two years of often tough negotiations, Canal Plus chairman Pierre Lescure and Herve Bourges, head of the television regulatory body CSA, inked the agreement June 1. The current operating concession runs until the end of 1995.

While web insiders were carefully avoiding sounding a triumphal note, the feeling in Paris is that the successful network has avoided having its obligations toughened.

At one stage during the last two years, former Communications Minister Alain Carignon had been looking to squeeze 450 million francs ($91 million) from Canal Plus to be channeled into the country’s ailing cable industry. The idea eventually was dropped but not before a Lescure protest.

The major change for Canal Plus in its new operating contract is that the web will be required to invest heavily in indie TV production. The pay TV unit always has pumped large sums into the film industry, largely to guarantee the supply of the 365 pics per year it can broadcast.

Under the terms of the CSA agreement, for programs destined to be aired on pay TV, two-thirds of the investment will go to indie producers. For programs not skedded, 50% of the investment will head to the indie sector.

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