Canal Plus has outlined fresh concessions it is willing to make to secure approval for its acquisition of Bolloré-owned channels Direct 8 and Direct Star that fall short of those demanded by opponents of the deal, according to French press reports.
Canal Plus initially offered some concessions to assuage the competition authority’s concerns about the deal in April, but these were judged not to be sufficient. According to financial daily Les Echos, which says it has seen a copy of the document the pay TV operator has submitted, Canal Plus has declined to commit not to privilege advertising clients of Bolloré-backed media buying agency Havas when Bolloré becomes a Canal Plus shareholder. Instead, it has promised to extend the term of its other commitments from three years to five. Canal Plus has said it will limit to two studios any deals it does to distribute US series on both Canal Plus and free-to-air channel Direct 8. It has also promised not to link free and pay rights to more than 20 French films a year, of which at least 15 must have a budget of less than €10 million, and will limit to 40% the proportion of French films acquired by the two free channels from its StudioCanal production arm. It has also committed to make free-to-air coverage of major sporting events available to third party channels on a non-discriminatory basis.
Rivals, who have demanded a structural separation of Canal Plus from Direct 8 and Direct Star, are unlikely to be mollified by Canal Plus’s proposals. The competition authority is expected to rule on the proposals by mid-July.