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CSA intervenes in Canal+ dispute over sale of movie to Amazon Prime

French media regulator the CSA has intervened to secure the amicable resolution of a dispute between pay TV operator Canal+ and production company Le Pacte over the latter’s decision to grant rights to the Italian film Pinocchio to Amazon Prime Video following the lockdown of cinemas in France.

Pinocchio, which was covered by a presale contract between the producer and Canal+, was unable to secure theatrical distribution as a result of the coronavirus lockdown, which resulted in a relaxation of the strict French rules governing distribution windows by allowing distribution via video-on-demand in place of a cinema release.

Canal+ considered that the sale of rights to Amazon Prime Video, to which it had not given consent, was in breach of its agreement with the producer, and took legal action.

According to the CSA, Le Pacte has said that it had repeatedly contacted Canal+ over the subject without getting a response and that it had been forced to act as a result of a situation of force majeure, when it risked finding itsel fin financial difficultly over being unable to make a return on its investment in the Italian movie and other films whose release was blocked by the closure of the country’s cinemas.

The CSA noted that Le Pacte’s move was in the context of “an exceptional situation” which had placed independent distributors in a difficult situation.

However, it said that while the exceptional nature of the lockdown could explain the move, it could not obviate the agreement without the explicit agreement of both parties, and noted that the pair had committed to respect their contract commitments to the letter in future.