five questions to decode everything

Big money and black screen: five questions to understand the conflict between Canal + and TF1 which broke out on Friday.

– What is the problem?

Bis repetita: as in 2018, the Canal+ group stopped broadcasting the channels of the TF1 group (TF1, TMC, TFX, TF1 Séries Films and LCI) because of a commercial dispute within the framework of the renewal of the distribution contract.

The two giants blame each other.

On the Canal + side, we are assured that TF1 was too greedy in the renegotiation of the contract, concluded at the end of 2018 after the first conflict and which ended on August 31: “if they had come saying + You are going to pay the same thing for the next years+, we would have accepted. The problem is that they are asking for a 50% increase”.

Canal insists that in the absence of an agreement, it was forced to cut the signal from the TF1 channels, at the risk of being guilty of infringement.

On the TF1 side, it is estimated that it was Canal which “did not wish to conclude a new agreement”, while others “have been found in recent years with all the operators”.

“These are the same contracts” with the operators Orange, Free, SFR, Bouygues Télécom, hammered Monday on franceinfo the secretary general of TF1, Didier Casas, judging “completely fanciful” the figure of + 50% increase .

Neither TF1 nor Canal reveals the amounts.

– What consequences?

In practice, only households that receive television only via a satellite subscription from the Canal+ group (and who therefore do not have access to it via a box from another operator or free DTT) are completely deprived of TF1 channels, in the absence of alternatives. This mainly concerns mountain areas.

But even if they can watch TF1 channels in another way, the cut forces Canal+ subscribers to juggle several remote controls.

TF1 ensures that the cut has already penalized it in terms of audience: “We have an impact of around 10 to 15% on the days of Friday and Saturday”.

“We are seriously thinking about what to do next given the damage suffered”, we say at TF1, according to which distribution via Canal + represents more than 12% of the group’s audience.

On the Canal side, we judge that TF1 wants to “touch on all fronts: to have the advantages of being in the clear and at the same time to receive money like a pay channel”.

– What obligations?

In a letter sent Friday to the chairman of the executive board of Canal+ Maxime Saada, the Minister of Culture Rima Abdul Malak asked the group to restore the broadcasting of TF1 channels on its TNT Sat satellite offer.

“Cutting the signal of the TF1 group channels on the TNT Sat offer deprives people who can only receive DTT by satellite of any access to the five free channels of the TF1 group”, argues the minister.

“This situation is not in accordance with the intention of the legislator, which was to guarantee full coverage of the territory by DTT”, she recalls.

But at Canal +, it is argued that no legal obligation weighs on distributors and it is estimated that subscribers “do not have to pay for free channels”.

“The law does not impose an obligation to take over a signal, this being the subject of a commercial agreement between the parties. Similarly, a broadcaster is entitled to request remuneration for the distribution of its signal,” Arcom (ex-CSA) told AFP on Monday.

“The law therefore does not offer the regulator a tool to compel one of the parties, but is in constant contact with the two parties to identify a way out of the dispute”, continued Arcom.

– A link with the TF1/M6 merger?

Some saw in the announcement of Canal + a blow of pressure on TF1 before a decisive step in its disputed merger project with M6, the hearings organized Monday and Tuesday by the Competition Authority.

“It is a pure coincidence of the calendar”, swore Maxime Saada in the JDD, adding that the expiry date of the contract on August 31, 2022 was fixed as early as 2018.

– How long will it last?

In 2018, Canal+ cut the TF1 signal on March 2 before restoring it completely on March 10. An agreement was finally reached in mid-November.

Bluff or real will? Canal+ this time seems to be placing itself in the perspective of a long conflict, ensuring that it can “offer the entirety” of the Football World Cup (November 20 – December 18) to its subscribers, “fortified by its partnership with beIN Sports” who owns the rights.

For its part, Arcom told AFP that it was “in dialogue with both parties to contribute to the resolution of the dispute as soon as possible”.

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