Canal Plus signed a five-year deal with the French film producers' associations in Cannes last week, in which it pledged to invest FFr20.5 per subscriber per month in European films in return for exclusive pay-TV rights.

Of the FFr20.5 per subscriber per month, FFr15.5 will go to French productions, underscoring Canal Plus' position as the main backer of French films. Canal Plus has 4.5 million subscribers and invested $128m (FFr923m) in 93 French titles in 1999.

The duration of Canal Plus' exclusive pay-TV rights is linked to the level of financing involved.

Competing pay-TV operation Television Par Satellite (TPS) - which invested only $14.4m (FFr104m) in 19 French titles in 1999 - still has to sign a similar deal. However the agreement has been stalled because TPS is seeking access to titles backed by Canal Plus, either through a pay-per-view deal or a second pay-TV window before the titles get a free TV broadcast.