Canal Plus gets OK for 9 p.m. pic slot

French B.O. surge prompts rule change

PARIS — The Conseil Superieur de l’Audiovisuel (CSA), France’s television regulatory body, said Tuesday it favored allowing paybox Canal Plus to run films on Friday nights beginning at 9 p.m.

Another CSA meeting to further discuss the change and effects of its implementation is scheduled for early January, with representatives of all terrestrial webs and the film industry to take part.

Box office pressure

During its first three years on the air, Canal Plus had the right to program pics on Fridays starting at 8:30 p.m. However, in 1987, due to lackluster Gallic box office, the right was taken away at the suggestion of the Bureau de Liaison des Industries Cinematographiques (BLIC), the film industry lobby group, and starting times were pushed back to 11:00 p.m. Now, with the arrival of cable and satellite — most notably thematic movie channels that have the same restrictions on programming — it would seem unfair to keep Canal Plus bound to this decade-old law.

And, as French box office has taken off in the past two years, with Canal Plus contributing greatly through co-productions, Jean Labe, president of BLIC, estimates it is “not legitimate to penalize Canal Plus” in the face of new competitors.