Gallic white flag

Org admits it can't restrict EU cable programming

PARIS — France’s television regulatory body, the Conseil Superieur de l’Audiovisuel (CSA), has finally accepted that it cannot impose broadcasting restrictions on cable channels beamed into France from another European Union country.

The move, which will infuriate Gallic cable channels, was announced in the CSA’s monthly newsletter. A terse statement noted, “Television services established in a state of the European Union other than France can now be carried on French cable without a convention from the CSA.”

In essence, this means that cable channels based outside France no longer have to respect the tough Gallic rules that stipulate 60% of programming must be European and that also set limits on when theatrical pics can be aired.

France’s newly formed Assn. of Cable and Satellite Channels (ACCES) has already voiced opposition to the CSA move, noting that U.S. powerhouses like Paramount and Turner have numerous channels waiting to enter France. ACCES head Claude-Yves Robin complained to Le Monde that local channels, which respect French quotas, will now face unfair competition from the Hollywood majors.

In particular, ACCES is worried that the French channels that invest in production will find it hard to continue, faced with U.S. channels showing programming that has largely been amortized Stateside. Robin charged that the American heavyweights would be “dumping” programming in France.

CSA sources, however, say they had little choice but to drop their guard, given that Brussels has clearly ruled that Paris had to allow channel access into France from neighboring EU countries, even if those countries have softer quota rules.

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