There is significant overlap between the French broadcast and film worlds. Each major broadcaster - TF1, France 2, France 3, Canal Plus and M6 - is required to invest in local films via pre-buys and each also has a separate film production arm.
Terrestrial channels TF1, France 2, France 3 and M6 must each invest 3.2% of their revenues into European productions with at least 2.5% of that into French films. This is handled via acquisitions and co-productions. The terrestrial networks must make their co-production investments via a specially created film arm. In return, via a separate pre-buy contract, they have the right to a broadcast window at the two-year mark rather than the normal three years for a non co-producing channel.
In terms of budgets, for example, Pierre Heros, who heads France 2 Cinema, says he has about $45m (EUR32m) to spend, which represents the 3.2% investment obligation. France 2 is a co-producer on about 30 films a year while its sister company, France 3 Cinema, has its hand in around 20. TF1 co-produces in the low 20s and M6 around 10 a year.
The rules are different for pay-TV channel Canal Plus, which must spend its commitments (12% of revenues for European film, 9% of that for French film) via acquisitions. Co-productions it invests in do not count towards its film investment quota. The Canal Plus Group operates a film production, distribution and sales outfit, StudioCanal, which - unlike other broadcasters' film arms - is a mini-studio in itself, separate from the channel. StudioCanal also jointly owns UK production outfit Working Title with Universal Pictures.
Another exception is Arte, which as a Franco-German channel does not fall under the French rules. Michel Reilhac of Arte Cinema confirms that Arte sees two advantages in having a film arm: the two-year window entitlement and the fact that a channel's profile is raised when a film is released theatrically.
With the arrival of so many different distribution platforms, Reilhac says films are earning a smaller proportion of their revenue from theatrical distribution. However, he adds: "So far nothing has replaced it. The theatrical release of a film helps to establish its reputation. I know of no projects to change the system."
French broadcasters invest in local film via acquisitions and/or co-productions. The terrestrial channels must invest 3.2% of their revenues in films of European origin with 2.5% of those being majority French films. Pay-TV Canal Plus must invest 12% of its revenues in European films via acquisitions, with 9% of that dedicated to French films. Arte has no obligations.
MAJOR BROADCASTERS' FILM COMMITMENTS
TF1: invested $62.2m (EUR44.1m) in 2006
Credits include: Asterix At The Olympics (Frederic Forestier, Thomas Langmann), Le Deuxieme Souffle (Alain Corneau)
France 2: invested $40.9m (EUR29m) in 2006
Credits include: Faut Que Ca Danse (Noemie Lvovsky), His Majesty Minor (Jean-Jacques Annaud)
France 3: invested $20.6m (EUR14.6m) in 2006
Credits include: Un Secret (Claude Miller), The Fox & The Child (Luc Jacquet)
M6: invested $12.7m (EUR9m) in 2006
Credits include: Contre-Enquete (Franck Mancuso), Le Premier Cri (Gilles de Maistre)
Arte: invested $7.4m (EUR5.3m) in 2006
Credits include: The Palermo Shooting (Wim Wenders), Disengagement (Amos Gitai)
Canal Plus: invested $195m (EUR138.3m) in 2006 (all via pre-buys)
Credits include: Roman De Gare (Claude Lelouch), Max & Co (Frederic and Samuel Guillaume)