In February, French pay-TV giant Canal Plus announced its long-time head of cinema, Evi Fullenbach, would step down, to be replaced by Manuel Alduy.

Alduy is no stranger to Canal, having joined the group in 1994 and working with Fullenbach as head of French film acquisitions since 2005.

Now, he oversees the purchase of films for Canal's three main outlets - the flagship channel, the themed film channels, and the TPS Star channel (the result of Canal's takeover of the TPS platform in 2007).

The three principal services demand a healthy flow of content, with the premium channel airing roughly 450 films a year, TPS Star running 400 and the seven themed cinema channels offering 2,000 annually. "The films are shared," says Alduy. "They have a first life on Canal Plus and then a second one on Cine Cinemas or TPS, for example."

Some 20 buyers work under Alduy, with decisions made by committee - although he and Canal Plus chief Rodolphe Belmer have the final word.

Fullenbach also remains tied to Canal, liaising between the broadcaster and the principal US studios which have output deals with Canal.

In terms of new media, Alduy contends TV buyers must be attentive to exclusivity, new forms of distribution and a diversity of films offered.

"The factors that go into the success of a film on TV have evolved," he says. "Film has never been so available to the viewer. The distinction between how films are watched - for example, whether on a TV or a computer - is essentially obsolete. It's the protection of exclusivity and the fight against piracy that are the decisive issues."

Canal is legally obliged to spend 12% of its annual revenues on French and European films. In 2007 this amounted to some $311m (EUR200m). Local films are pre-bought, while foreign acquisitions are almost always made on finished films.

"We've made a promise to our subscribers that we will reflect the diversity of film," says Alduy. "We have to fit the tastes of 100,000 people just as much as we do 3,000. If you compare today to five years ago, the real novelty concerns the range of choice we have now. Ten years ago, fans of Asian cinema could only see their films on VHS but almost never in theatres. Today you could almost have an entire channel devoted to it."

Alduy acknowledges Canal now faces increased competition for titles from the likes of telephone and internet service providers, which are providing film as a video-on-demand (VoD) service.

"VoD has accelerated things, but in France we hold tightly to the chronology of windows and our offer is very competitive," he contends. "Rights holders realise that, more and more, what matters is how much money they can get from a platform, and in France film is one of the rare things that has three or four successive lives in a short period of time - from theatres to VoD to DVD to pay-TV to free-TV. The chronology has created a lot of value because the windows exist in a watertight system."