International TV Newswire: French Fears, Televisa Struggles, Keshet Sales

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In this week’s International TV Newswire: Frédérique Bredin announces she won’t run for another term at France’s National Cinema Center (CNC); Mexican broadcaster Televisa’s profits plummet; HBO pre-buys Keshet’s “Our Boys” for Latin America and Europe; Patrick Vien changes roles at A+E; new Greek government re-aligns public broadcasters; and VODs are still under the upcoming 30% European series quota.

Frédérique Bredin Exits CNC as France Fears for Cultural Exception

Over 1992-93, France fought Hollywood. for its powerful French cinema quotas and subsidies – part of its so-called cultural exception – to be excluded from the Gatt round of trade talks, liberalizing commerce. France won. Now France’s movie industry fears that its once sacrosanct public-sector support for cinema will be dismantled by the French government itself. Though first and foremost a cinema concern, the threat could have important concerns for France’s TV industry as well.

On Wednesday, Frédérique Bredin, president of state-backed France’s National Cinema Center, let it be known she would not apply for a third term of office. A symbol of stable state support for France’s film industry, she had made public her opposition to a report by two members of parliament from Emmanuel Macron’s ruling LREM party, Marie-Ange Magne and Céline Calvez, proposing to cap CNC funding, end it autonomy and overhaul its alleged inefficiencies. Calvez suggested at the report’s publication that too many films were made in France, with not enough audience in theaters. What’s not that well understood is that the lion’s share of  state-engineered funding in French cinema comes via obligatory investment quotas imposed on its TV operators. Pay TV operator Canal Plus, the biggest contributor, agreed last November, after down-to-the-wire negotiations, to invest up to €180 million ($203 million) a year in French and European movies over 2019-23. As TV advertising plateaus and subscribers in France fall, French broadcasters bristle increasingly at such obligations. The French cinema is already battling any suggestion of change to a support apparatus which saw French movies take a 40% market share in 2018. Broadcasters, behind doors, may be wondering if any relaxation of state support mechanisms could play to their advantage.

Mexico’s Televisa Profit Plummets

Mexican broadcaster Televisa’s net profit plummeted 78.6% in the second quarter, primarily a result of reduced ad spend from Mexico’s private sector and public sectors, the latter spurred by the austerity policies of new left-wing President Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador’s government.

Company reported a 919.1 million peso ($47.9 million) net profit for the period, down from 4.3 billion pesos during the same time frame in 2018. Net sales plunged by 9% to 24.3 billion pesos from 26.7 billion pesos in the same quarter last year.

“Televisa said its 2018 results were boosted by the World Cup, creating a difficult comparison for the quarter,” noted Laura Aguilera, a senior research analyst at IHS Markit, who also observed that Televisa’s recent five-year term loan of 10,000 million pesos ($520.6 m) from a raft of banks was “not indicative of trouble necessarily; the money can be used for many things, including refinancing existing debt.”

In a conference call with investors, Grupo Televisa co-CEO Alfonso de Angoitia said, “We knew the first half of the year would be challenging,” but Televisa expected a turnaround during the second half, fueled by double-digit growth in cable and the modernization of its content.

HBO, Keshet’s ‘Our Boys’ Bought for Europe, Latin America

HBO’s European and Latin American branches have pre-purchased Keshet International’s HBO co-production “Our Boys.” The series’ ten episodes will broadcast on Aug 12 in the U.S. and the Caribbean before rolling out across Latin America, large parts of Northern and Eastern Europe, Spain and Portugal. Based on real life events which contributed to the breakout of the Gaza War in 2014, it turns on a murder investigation of a teenaged Palestinian in Jerusalem. The series was created by a superstar team of filmmakers including Hagai Levi (“The Affair”), Joseph Cedar (“Footnote”) and Tawfik Abu Wael(“Thirst”), with Levi and Cedar executive producing.

Patrick Vien Changes Roles at A&E

A+E Networks has announced that Patrick Vien has been named group managing director for international, moving from his previous role as co-executive managing director for international. The new position will see Vien assume responsibility for A+E Networks’ international portfolio and business. He joined the company in 2017, and in his previous role overlooked A+E’s businesses EMEA. His recent credits include the company’s first international scripted co-production “Miss Scarlet & The Duke,” and unscripted “Damian Lewis: Spy Wars.” Prior to that, Vien was president at Pulse Films and oversaw Beyonce’s “Lemonade” and Shia LeBoeuf’s “American Honey.” Vien will work out of New York and report to A+E Networks Groups president Paul Buccieri.

Greek Prime Minister’s Office Takes Control of Public Broadcaster ERT

Following the New Democracy party’s victory at last weekend’s Greek elections, public broadcaster ERT will undergo management and strategy changes, according to local media reports put out this week. The reports stated that Giannis Drosos had resigned from his position as managing director, having filled that role since November of last year. The new government denied accusations that it has called for resignations, although no official statement has been released by the government or ERT on the matter. Local journalists have criticized a series of re-alignments which have seen administration for both ERT and the Athens News Agency placed under the jurisdiction of the prime minister’s office. In 2013, the last time New Democracy was in power, it shut down ERT without parliamentary approval.

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European TV Series: Still Below 30% VOD Quota Requirements 

European TV series episodes make up 24% of all episodes on TVOD services and 19% on SVOD systems in Europe, according to a new report from the European Audiovisual Observatory released this week. That suggests that the sector as a whole could still be a significant way off the 30% content requirements envisaged by the European Union’s Audiovisual Media Service Directive, though that does not have to be embodied in member states’ national law until May 2020. In an extraordinary statistic, there are more non-E.U./non-U.S. titles and episodes available on SVOD in Europe than E.U. titles/episodes. SVOD needs to get its “Darks” in a row.