The French film industry is currently fighting back against US corporation Netflix to protect its ‘cultural exception’ (l’exception culterelle’**).  Three of France’s leading broadcasters have joined forces to combat Netflix after the online streaming service recruited French legends like Gerard Depardieu in its own push to win over the French audience.

Noticeable by its absence, as a result of this current battle, Netflix did not appear yet again this year (second year running) at the Cannes Film festival, which took place in the middle of May.

Prior to the battle with Netflix, France has historically defended its ‘exception culterelle’ with subsidies, quotas and tax breaks in order to protect French films, music and television.  Now France is embarking on a fight against the digital dominance of Netflix and other online video platforms such as Amazon and Google.

 

The FCA (French Competition Authority) currently argues that the French Government should ease the constraints on French TV operators to enable them to compete more effectively with the various online video platforms.

Aiming at maintaining French legacy, there are currently significant obligations on French TV operators.  However, in return they are granted free-of-charge terrestrial frequencies.

The FCA note that the TV Operators’ business model is gradually weakening due to the need to comply with such regulatory obligations. Plus, the online video platforms are causing disruption to the audiovisual market as they do not face these same obligations.

However, the FCA has been making proposals to restore effective competition against the online platforms.  It believes that the French audiovisual regulatory framework is outdated and discussions with the French government are taking place to reform it by looking at:

  • Broadcasting – lifting the ban on broadcasting movies on specific weekdays;
  • Audiovisual Production – enabling TV operators to jointly pool their obligations at the level of the TV group to which they belong;
  • TV Advertising – lifting various TV advertising bans;
  • Merger Control – revising the merger control system so it covers all content providers and in particular the online video platforms.

At Delcade, our team has experience in advising clients on the various obligations and regulations regarding the set up of Media and TV companies in France and we are currently working with a foreign TV group on developing their activities in the French market.

In particular, Delcade has excellent knowledge of the CSA (French media regulator authority) and our experience includes setting up a new French company in the TV sector, advising a TV group on employment law requirements and negotiating TV contracts entered into by the channel, including commercial and IT contracts.  In addition one member of our team was a former CSA director so brings a wealth of knowledge in this area.

For more information on setting up business in Media and TV in France, please contact our legal specialists at Delcade on +33 (0)1 75 43 18 56 or e: blafourcade@delcade.fr

(**L’exception culterelle’ is a political concept introduced by France in General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) negotiations in 1993 to treat culture differently from other commercial products.)

Benoît LAFOURCADE

Co-Founder, Partner & Solicitor -
International Corporate Law & Litigation

Benoît, Delcade’s co-founder, is a Paris Bar lawyer and UK Solicitor (London).

Advisor for various embassies, working closely with the firm's team, Benoît offers his services to French and foreign companies requiring cross-cutting strategic and legal support in business law.

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