Netflix looking at possible French launch

NetflixBuilding4Streaming service Netflix reportedly has France in its sights as a possible new launch territory.

According to Reuters, citing an unnamed source, Netflix representatives met with staff from French president Francois Hollande’s office to discuss how the video service could launch in the country.

The source said Netflix was keen to understand the legal conditions that could affect a launch and was planning trips to other European territories in view of separate launches.

However, strict French windowing regulations may pose significant challenges for Netflix.

According to French daily Le Figaro, Netflix general counsel David Hyman and public affairs chief Christopher Libertelli met French presidential media adviser David Kessler as well as Pascal Rogard, director-general of rights collecting society SACD, during their visit.

According to the paper, Netflix is actively preparing for a launch in France in autumn next year, after launching in Belgium in May and possibly Germany during the summer.

Le Figaro reported that French officials have said Netflix would be welcome in France on condition that it bases its operation in the country and not in Luxembourg, where it could avoid paying French VAT.

Netflix would also be obliged to contribute to the French content creation on the same terms as the country’s own TV channels and video-on-demand providers, and would have to respect the French windowing system that allows movies to be made available on VoD only four months after their theatrical release, and on subscription VoD 36 months after their release, according to the paper.

The commission set up under former Canal+ chief Pierre Lescure to report on media regulation in France has recommended that this window should be reduced to 18 months.

Netflix is currently available in the US, the UK, Ireland, Canada, Latin America, the Netherlands and Scandinavia and was last week linked with a launch in Australia, though local reports suggested the major studios had decided against local programming deals, which could scupper any plans.

In related news, the 13-episode season two of Netflix original drama House of Cards will launch in its entirety on Friday, February 14, 2014.

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