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Canal+ may pull out of French digital-terrestrial platform at end of year

Canal+ may pull out of France’s digital-terrestrial TV platform when its licence expires at the end of this year depending on the conditions imposed by the government, according to Vivendi CEO Arnaud de Puyfontaine.

Speaking to analysts after the pay TV operator’s revival contributed significantly to its parent company’s Q2 results, De Puyfontaine said that “all options regarding the Canal+ TNT [digital-terrestrial] licence are still open, including that the licence not be renewed”.

He said that digital-terrestrial distribution currently accounted for around 400,000 of the group’s French base, but only about 2% of revenue, and added that pulling out of DTT would have no impact on the company’s financials.

De Puyfontaine said that the DTT platform “ involved high cost and very restrictive obligations”  and added that while growth from Canal+’s international operation was “very compelling”, France itself was “still at a crossroads”.

He said that Vivendi needed “to manage the company on a very tight basis” to ensure its profitable growth.

“With regards to the renewal process, we need to keep every option open and see what would be the conditions under which we could renew, and take into account the pros and cons,” he said.

Canal+’s overall subscriber base jumped to 20.4 million in the year to June, up from 17.1 million in the first half of 2019, thanks to strong growth internationally,

The group’s French subscriber base stood at 8.5 million, up slightly, boosted by its exclusive distribution deal with Disney+, which it said would be extended to distribution partners including France’s ISPs. At the start of June the group also became the exclusive French distributor of BeIN Sports channels to third party distributors for the next five years.

Canal+ also contributed significantly to Vivendi’s top line and, thanks in part to the impact of the production shut-down during the COVID-19 lockdown on costs, its free cash-flow.