The French film sector is waiting with baited breath for details of a dramatic new production and distribution alliance between French television powerhouse TF1 and Miramax Films that will be unveiled at a heavyweight press conference this afternoon featuring their respective chiefs, Patrick Le Lay and Harvey Weinstein.

The venture, which looks set to start as early as this August, will see TF1 - operator of the leading free television network in France as well as controller of the fast-rising pay-TV network TPS - finally entering French theatrical distribution and altering the local cinematic balance of power.

The alliance also means that Miramax, which has traditionally fed its films through Bac, will control its own distribution in France, as it already does in Italy and Australia. On a global scale, the partners are expected to acquire some films jointly, Miramax distributing in North America, TF1 handling international sales. In TF1, Miramax also gains a potent European production partner.