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Canal Plus Confirms Plan to Cut Nearly 20% of French Workforce

Canal Plus has confirmed its plan to slash nearly 20% of its workforce – nearly 500 jobs – in France, where the pay-TV group has been facing the continued decline of its subscriber base.

Canal Plus said in a statement Tuesday that it met with the company’s social and economic committee to lay out its plan to eliminate up to 492 jobs through voluntary departures. It said it would be holding further discussions on July 15 and 16.

In its statement, Canal Plus said it was struggling to cope with the “revolution” going on in the TV industry, with the “global platforms, digital native and international [companies] which boast considerable financial muscles and are not under the same fiscal and regulatory constraints [as] the Canal Plus Group,” said the company.

Canal Plus Group’s chairman and CEO Maxime Saada had hinted at the job cuts during a keynote address at MipTV, saying that Canal Plus would need to do some belt-tightening in order to be “fit to fight” amid the ultra-competitive landscape and the upcoming launch of Apple, Disney Plus, among others.

Canal Plus, which currently has fewer than 5 million subscribers in France (which is fewer than Netflix), has been developing multiple initiatives to lure younger demographics and expand its scope. It recently launched Canal Plus Series, an OTT channel dedicated to scripted shows and boasting a slightly cheaper subscription fee than Netflix’s in France.

The company has also launched lower-priced packages to compete with streaming services and signed carriage deals with Orange and Free, among others, to access more households. But the group said these efforts were not sufficient at this point to thrive in the current context. One of Canal Plus’s biggest blows in recent years was the loss of key sports rights to bigger bidders.

Last year, for instance, Canal Plus lost broadcast rights to French Premier League soccer matches for the 2020-2024 seasons to Chinese-owned Spanish broadcasting group Mediapro. The pay-TV group, however, managed to acquire exclusive broadcasting rights to English Premier League soccer matches, which will kick off next month.

While it’s been investing more than $3.2 billion annually in content, including series, films and sports, Canal Plus has also executed a cost-cutting plan which saved a cumulative €1 billion from 2015 to 2018.

Canal Plus, which is obligated to earmark 12.5% of its annual turnover for pre-acquisitions of French and European films, remains a pillar of the French film industry even if its investments reached a record low last year.

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