Canal Plus attacks TF1, M6 and France Télévisions

The encrypted channel is filing a complaint against TF1, M6 and France Télévisions before the Competition Authority. She accuses them of preventing D8 from buying French films.

Canal Plus has decided to dissuade the hatchet against almost all the PAF. The Encrypted Chain, after attacking only TF1now decides to lodge a complaint with the Competition Authority against TF1, M6 and France Télévisions together.

This time, the subsidiary of Vivendi accuses the historical chains of locking the rights of French films, and thus of preventing D8 and D17 from buying them.

Crucial access

Or access to French films is crucial for the two Canal Plus TNT channels. Because these are obliged by the regulations to broadcast at least 40% of French films.

One solution would be to buy recent films, but these are expensive and generally purchased before filming, ie several years before their free-to-air broadcast.

The TNT channels therefore fall back on catalog films, which are much cheaper: 200,000 euros maximum, against 1 to 3 million euros for an unreleased film.

But here another problem arises. Very often, the rights to these films are not available because they are blocked by TF1, M6 or France Télévisions.

Explanation: if a film is pre-financed by a historical channel, then the latter buys the right from the broadcaster for the first time in clear. But very often, the historic channel grants itself control over the following broadcasts on this occasion.

In practice, it can buy a “priority option” on subsequent broadcasts. Or it can demand a “right of first refusal”, that is to say that it remains a priority when the film is put on sale. Concretely, if the film is sold to a competing channel, then the producer is required to inform the historical channel, which can then demand that the film be sold to itself and not to the competing channel – and this for the same price.

Widely used control

The encrypted channel had already complained about this problem to the competition police in 2012 when it bought D8.

She then had deplore that these different locks are not limited in time, and above all widely used and very used – in 60% to 80% of cases, according to her.

To get to the bottom of it, Canal Plus had made calculations by examining the 2,000 French films in the catalog which are in the portfolio of its subsidiary StudioCanal.

Result: TF1 or M6 hold pre-emption rights to half of the 530 films co-produced by La Une or La Six since 1987, and which are in the StudioCanal catalogue.

Similarly, of the 77 films broadcast on a historic channel between 2010 and 2011 and co-produced by this channel and StudioCanal, 75 are locked via a right of first refusal or a priority option.

6,000 films per year

At the time, the competition watchdog had judge that French catalog films concern a market which had to be examined in isolation – a so-called “relevant” market, in the jargon of competition law. He had provoked this market to 105 million euros per year.

For its part, Canal Plus had posted the total market for catalog films (American films included) between 180 and 200 million euros in 2010 (including 33 million euros for StudioCanal) for 2,000 films per year.

For its part, the CSA (Higher Audiovisual Council) describe rather the total market at 305 million euros in 2010 for 6,000 films per year.

Finally, remember that Canal Plus pre-purchases the vast majority of French production, but only for encrypted broadcasting.

Update: contacted, Canal Plus declined to comment.

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