Canal+ faces loss of authority
May 2, 2012 10.47 Europe/London By Julian Clover

Canal+ is bracing itself for conditions to the TPS merger that will dramatically impact on its position in the French TV market.

Proposals, due to be discussed today by the media regulator CSA, were leaked to newspaper Le Point. They include restrictions on sports and movie rights, as well as any future tie-up with rival platform Orange.

In a statement Canal described the leak as shocking and said if true they would provide the CSA with a challenge for French and European production through a removal of competitive elements in the market.

The CSA has liased with the French competiton authority (Autoritť de la Concurrence) which last year withdrew its blessing for the merger after a preliminary investigation showed that Canal Plus did not respect all of the conditions that had been imposed.

According to the documents seen by Le Point, Canal would still be allowed to purchased both free and pay rights to a particular event. But the CSA is looking to be able to force Canal to also screen such an event free-to-air.

Canal may also face restrictions on the duration of contracts it holds with the Hollywood studios. It currently has contracts with five out of the seven so-called Hollywood majors.

Restrictions would also be placed on what could be acquired for video on demand distribution in which CanalPlay is a major player.

As a producer in its own right, through StudioCanal, the broadcaster faces having to open up its catalogue to all comers without discrimination.

The CSA is also keen to allow alternative operators to develop attractive channel packages by being granted full access to the multichannel package CanalSat. It views Canalís carriage of the Orange Cinema series with disquiet and is looking at possible solutions such as a restriction on its programme budget.