CSA spares Vivendi

Org will not withdraw Canal Plus' license

PARIS — Herve Bourges, the head of France’s broadcasting authority, Thursday promised not to use the “atomic bomb” on Vivendi by withdrawing Canal Plus’ broadcasting license.

The Conseil Superieur de l’Audiovisual (CSA) recently renewed the license for a further five years — but that was before the Vivendi-Seagram deal, under which the Canal Plus group’s core French TV company will be spun off into a separate entity, with the rest of its activities joining Vivendi Universal.

Many in France have expressed concern about the channel’s future.

“Withdrawal of the authorization would be the atomic bomb, it would be death to the channel” Bourges told the daily Le Figaro. “That would be in the interests of neither French cinema nor broadcasting.”

Reassuring words

However, Jean-Marie Messier and Pierre Lescure will go before the CSA in early July, Bourges said, to ensure the new group intends to honor its various commitments in France, such as its investment in French cinema, currently calculated on the basis of Canal Plus’ revenues.

Bourges went on to praise the Vivendi-Seagram deal, saying the fact that it happened was a sign that France’s broadcasting regulations were not as restrictive as some have suggested.

He said: “This rapprochement constitutes a response to all those who thought our companies were condemned to remain within France’s borders because of a “regulatory corset” restraining their development. The corset can’t be all that tight.”

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