Content creators slam France’s proposed SVOD window reform

The report on the reform of France’s movie distribution windowing system produced by Eutelsat chairman Dominique D’Hinnin for the government has stopped short of bringing the country’s pay TV and SVOD windows in line.

The report, delivered on Friday, was immediately condemned by groups representing producers and authors .

The recommended changes would see SVOD players gain access to movies only after 15 months – a significant reduction from the current 36 months but one that fall short of matching the pay TV window. The new window – which will be four months in duration – will only apply to ‘virtuous’ operators – meaning those that finance the making of movies at the level of traditional players. For movies whose stay in the cinemas is less than three months, SVOD services will be able to carry them after 13 months.

The report has recommended a reduction in the time pay TV outfit Canal+ must wait to air movies it co-financed on its channels from 10 months to seven months, with a window of six months in which to show them. Previously it had a 12-month window. Canal+ will be able to show movies after six months if their theatrical release lasted less than three months.

According to financial daily Les Echos, citing an unnamed source, the authors of the report had wanted to maintain a technology-neutral stance given that Canal+’s catch-up services associated with its pay TV channels have similar functionality to VOD services. However, the adamant opposition of Canal+ to the idea of equality between pay TV and SVOD services, combined with the hostility of free-to-air broadcasters resulted in the compromise of 15 months. Free channels will be able to air movies after 19 months, or 17 in the case of short-run movies.

The report was immediately condemned by producers and directors group the ARP and authors’ copyright society SACD on multiple grounds, including that it would disincentivise new players from entering the market and supporting content creation.

Copyright collecting society SACD said that the report represented a missed opportunity to engage digital players in support for content creation. The SACD said that advancing the pay TV window without placing any obligation on Canal+ to respect authors’ rights also represented a step backwards.