Patrick Le Lay, chairman of French broadcaster TF1 which part owns the TPS digital platform, has launched a fresh attack on Canal Plus over the on-going issue of access to pay-TV rights.
Le Lay has written to state film body CNC accusing Canal Plus, which controls rival platform Canal Satellite, of monopolising the pay-TV market. Canal Plus currently controls a pay-TV window attached to its high investment in French production. TPS has been lobbying for the creation of a second window - for titles pre-bought or acquired by Canal Plus - and to be in a position to bid for pay-per-view rights.
Le Lay was reacting to a statement by French culture minister Catherine Trautmann, praising the recent agreement between Canal Plus and film industry unions BLIC, BLOC and ARP. The agreement governs Canal Plus'' investment in and broadcast of French productions. TPS is under pressure to sign a similar agreement.
From his reaction, Le Lay appears concerned that Trautmann has sided with Canal Plus and is attempting to seek an ally in CNC head and former television executive Jean-Pierre Hoss. Canal Plus wields significant power in the production sector due to its heavy investment. In 1999 it invested $136m (FFr926m) in 140 French or French co-produced films. In comparison, TPS, a newcomer in the pay-TV arena, invested only $15.3m (FFr104m) in 19 titles.