French political journalist and former presenter of Canal+ flagship show Le Grand Journal Jean-Michel Aphatie has attacked Vivendi chairman Vincent Bolloré following the latter’s threat last week to the effect that the pay TV service could be closed down if its finances did not improve.
Writing on his blog, Aphatie condemned Bolloré for putting profit before creativity and freedom of expression, accusing the tycoon of destabilizing Canal+s management, terrorizing employees and censoring journalists, among other things.
Intimating that the pay TV service represents a spirit that is inimical to Bolloré’s quest for profit above all else, Aphatie said that Canal+ could disappear “since such seems to be the design of its proprietor” but that it would rise again under a different name.
Aphatie’s attack on Bolloré follows comments made by the Vivendi boss last week at the media group’s annual meeting, when Vivendi CEO Stéphane Roussel said that the pay TV unit could lose up to €400 million this year if nothing was done to arrest the problem.
“There comes a time when you need to shut off the tap. Vivendi can’t pour money into Canal+ indefinitely,” said Bolloré.
Answering a question posed by a shareholder, Bolloré said that it was “possible” that Canal+ Group could shut down its flagship pay channels, leaving a group comprising pay TV platform Canalsat, free-to-air services D8, D17 and iTélé, production outfit StudioCanal and international arm Canal+ Overseas.
Bolloré warned that such a decision could follow a failure of authorization to distribute rival pay TV service BeIN Sports’ channels and if Canal+’s losses continue to mount.
With regards to Canal+’s deal with BeIN Sports, he also indicated that subscribers would be able to sign up to BeIN Sports without subscribing to Canal+, though the group will propose a bundled offering to customers.