Canal Plus condemns reported CSA proposals as threat to European content creation

Canal Plus has reacted angrily to a report in Le Point magazine that revealed regulator the CSA would recommend a series of strongly restrictive measures to counter the market power of the pay TV operator in its submission to France’s competition authority.

The competition regulator asked the CSA to submit its opinion on the market power of Canal Plus as part of its setting conditions for the resubmission of the latter’s merger with TPS. Last year, the competition authority took the extraordinary step of retroactively withdrawing its green light for the 2006 merger on the ground that Canal Plus had failed to fulfill its obligations. The CSA’s views were set to be discussed in a plenary session today.

Canal Plus said it was shocked that a journalist would be given access to a document that was confidential and should have been delivered only to the competition authority. It also said that if what the article revealed proved to be true, the measures proposed would constitute a serious threat to the foundations of the financing of French and European content. Canal Plus said that the measures reportedly proposed would not only have no positive effect on competition but would overturn the existing windowing structure for films and dissuade the pay TV operators from investing in original French and European fiction. It added that the measures would also prevent the emergence of competition in free TV to the existing commercial duopoly of TF1 and M6.

According to Le Point, the CSA is recommending a series of restrictions on Canal Plus’s activities designed to facilitate the emergence of lower-cost premium movies and sports offerings.

According to the magazine, the CSA is not only recommending the reinforcement of 59 obligations that were imposed on Canal Plus at the time of its original merger with TPS six year ago, but is proposing a number of new measures.
These include forbidding Canal Plus to buy, simultaneously, the free and pay rights to broadcast live sports events, which prevent the broadcaster from acquiring rights for Canal Plus and free-to-air channel Direct 8, the channel it is acquiring from Bolloré, at the same time.

According to the magazine, the CSA is also proposing a limitation on the duration of Canal Plus’s movie output deals with Hollywood studios to enable new entrants to acquire rights in a viable window, and to force Canal Plus to make StudioCanal films available on a non-discriminatory basis to other distributors. Canal Plus could also be forbidden from acquiring exclusive rights to recent French, European and US films for distribution on its CanalPlay video-on-demand service, or from blocking access to others to VOD rental rights during its own distribution window.

According to Le Point, the CSA also wants to make access to series on Canal Plus available to other broadcaster soon after their transmission, to make access to CanalSat easier for independent channels, and to either terminate its joint venture with Orange or block Canal Plus’s right to exclusive distribution of Orange’s channels.