The French free-tv broadcasters will have to increase their compulsory investment in French film production (through pre-buys, co-productions and theatrical distribution) to 3.2% of their revenues (against 3% previously) according to new broadcasting legislation.

The French broadcasting sector is a major backer of the French film indsutry. Last year, the involvement of the main free-tv channels (TF1, France 2, France 3, M6 and Arte) amounted to Ffr560m (Ffr377m in pre-buys and Ffr183m in co-productions) which was invested in 95 titles (out of a total of 145 French films produced in 2000). Average participation per title varied between Ffr2.1m for cultural channel Arte and Ffr117m for leading channel TF1 and represented an average 14% of the films' budget.

Three quarters of the broadcasters' participation will have to go to independently-produced titles and the new regulation, which is part of the new broadcasting law, also includes a number of measures aiming at strengthening the economic independence of the production companies.

Licensing rights are limited to two runs over 18 months and, even if it holds equity shares in the film, the channel is not allowed to act as executive producer. Furthermore, the broadcaster cannot hold more than one sales mandate, whether it concerns theatrical distribution, home video and television distribution or foreign sales, unless its contribution to independent production is increased from 75% to 85%, in which case the broadcaster is allowed two mandates.

The pay-tv broadcasters' obligations have yet to be determined. Canal Plus, for its part, poured a massive Ffr954m into 115 films last year (an average Ffr8.3m per title representing 23% of the films' budget).