French broadcasting group AB has denied accusations of intending to avoid the national content quota and other broadcasting regulations by transmitting its planned new movie channels from Luxembourg.
"We will broadcast from Luxembourg because we have a technical platform there", AB's chairman, Claude Berda told French publication Satellifax.
However, various French film industry bodies, such as talents' and producers' group ARP, producers' union UPF and film industry unions' association BLOC, have all expressed their concerns that AB's proposed channels (to be part of Vivendi Unversal's French digital satellite platform CanalSatellite) would not have to comply with the national broadcasting and production quotas. If this loophole were to be exploited, they contend, a precedent could be set for delivering further such channels from abroad.
In the interview, Berda sought to alleviate these concerns, saying "We will abide by French broadcasting regulations."
French group AB, which operates 19 cable and satellite channels in France, Germany, Belgium and Switzerland, is planning to launch up to six film-themed channels.
The channels, under Laurent Zameczkowski, would each be dedicated to a specific genre, such as romantic comedies, dramas, auteur and thrillers. Films, mostly reruns, would constitute the channels' mainstay, together with a few TV movies and the occasional half-hour magazine and film-themed shows.
AB is involved in television programme production and distribution. The company (which is no longer listed on the New York Stock exchange but remains quoted on Paris Stock Second Marche, the French equivalent to the Nasdacq) reported Euros 156.4m in revenues for 2001, a 12% hike compared to 2000, mostly due to a 26% increase in advertising sales generated by its cable and satellite channels (which represented nearly 22 million subscribers in Europe at the end of 2001, a 31% jump compared to the previous year).