Cannes Festival head, Gilles Jacob has decided not to join Canal Plus' supervisory board as had been announced earlier this week (Screendaily, June 10).
The decision was taken by Jacob after a specially-called meeting of the Cannes Festival's administrative board. The board did not rule out his joining Canal Plus, where he had been nominated vice president of the supervisory (non-executive) board, with special responsibility for ensuring the correct representation of French film. He was to replace Jorge Semprun, the Spanish writer who was closely allied with deposed Canal Plus boss Pierre Lescure.
Jacob, however, said that he took note of the reservations expressed by the festival board and the "press campaign unleashed by the event." He said that he regretted: "not being able to take up a proposition whose idea was to serve French film as a whole."
Reactions were not confined to the press. Talent association l'ARP and film producers federation UPF both came out saying that the two posts were incompatible.
The Canal Plus group's works committee (comite d'entreprise) expressed its concern in a letter to the CSA, the French broadcast watchdog, stating that the appointment makes the festival chief's independence "problematic". It said that his nomination should be "reconsidered".
Canal Plus is to face another nervous moment as the powerful state committee, the Conseil d'Etat, meets to consider whether Canal Plus share-holder structure is in line with French law. That states that no more than 20% of a terrestrial broadcaster's capital can be held by non-European interests, a matter made unclear by Vivendi Universal's multi-national ownership. It is expected to deliver its verdict to the CSA, within the next few days.