M6, the French broadcaster which has been quietly been acquiring all French rights to films such as Martin Scorsese's mega budget Gangs of News York, is in the process of taking control of its theatrical distribution operation with the purchase of RTL Group's SND.
RTL is also a main shareholder in M6 along with Suez Lyonnaise. M6 has often co-acquired titles with SND, through its right-trading oufit M6 Interactions.
SND, for example, set to release a recent M6 pick-up, Michelle Yeoh-starrer The Touch.
The Luxembourg-based RTL Group -- formerly known as CLT Ufa before it merged with UK's Pearson -- is also in the process of dismantling CLT Ufa International. The broadcasting group's film acquisition, sales and distribution division had been very active on the international independent production scene and had started to build a European distribution network, of which SND was the French beachhead. Noticeably, however, CLT-Ufa International had no booth in Cannes this year.
According to insiders, RTL Plus international film acquisition and co-production activities will be co-ordinated by a central department, which will seek out and negotiate European rights to films in order to make full use of its position as the largest terrestrial broadcaster in Europe. However, RTL Group's various European channels will make the ultimate decision to buy the films and will put up their own money.
Since it was taken over by Germany's Bertelsmann, RTL Group has been intent on concentrating on its core business, terrestrial broadcasting.