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Canal+ drops TF1 channels as pair fail to strike deal

Canal+ has ceased broadcasting TF1’s channels and digital services after failing to strike a deal with the commercial broadcaster.

Canal+ has also filed a legal complaint with the Paris commercial court, challenging the legality of the broadcaster’s demands.

The pay TV group has already pulled TF1’s signals from its Canalsat service and MyCanal web offering. The operator blamed TF1’s “intransigence” for the move, and accused the broadcaster of abusing its market power by attempting to force distributors to pay for continuing to carry channels that are available free-to-view on digital-terrestrial TV and the web.

Canal+ said that TF1 had used delaying tactics instead of engaging in meaningful negotiations and said the group’s financial demands were “unreasonable and unfounded”.

The pay TV operator said that TF1’s channels, including TMC,.TFX, TF1 Séries Films and LCI, used national spectrum that had been given to the group free of charge and that the broadcaster benefited form regulations such as the reservation of major sports events for free-to-air distribution.

Maxime Saada

Canal+ CEO Maxime Saada said earlier said publicly that his company would not pay to carry TF1’s services, arguing that the commercial broadcaster already profited from that the country’s operators distributed its services to their subscribers.

Canal+ last year appealed to the Conseil d’Etat to overturn the CSA’s decision to renew TF1’s licence when the broadcaster had announced its intention to “fundamentally change its method of finance” by charging distributors for carriage.

Canal+ aired a message to subscribers explaining its decision, informing them that paying for TF1’s service would mean higher charges and that it had decided to cease airing both the TF1 channels and TF1’s catch-up service.

TF1 responded this morning by condemning Canal+’s “unilateral decision”, which it said was “incomprehensible” because the pay TV operator was still authorised to distribute the services, despite the expiration of the pair’s contract at the end of February.

The broadcaster said it had never demanded that the channels be dropped from Canal+’s offering, but had called for a continuation of negotiations.

TF1 is also at loggerheads with Orange, having stopped providing its catch-up service to the operator and demanded that Orange cease distributing its channels to its IPTV subscribers. While Orange and TF1’s contract had expired at the end of January, and talks had subsequently broken down, TF1 said it wanted to carry on negotiations with Canal+.

TF1’s contract with a third distributor, Free, is set to expire at the end of this month. Free chief executive Maxime Lombardini has already indicated he is not prepared to pay retransmission fees.

The broadcaster has on the other hand struck redistribution deals with Altice France/SFR and Bouygues Telecom, the country’s other main distribution platform operators.