New film co-production arm for France Télécom
by Fabien Lemercier
08/11/2006 - There was good news for French film production yesterday, with the announcement that France Télécom is to become one of its financers.
In the first quarter of 2007, the operator will set up a new arm that will deal with investment in film rights. Also planned is the co-production of 10 to 15 European films per year through the purchase of rights to catalogue films.
In its press release, France Télécom emphasised that the creation of this new arm “reflects the willingness to participate considerably in the pre-financing of French and European films, to contribute to its diversity and to maintain significant balance in the sector".
The new arm will be headed by Frédérique Dumas, who was film adviser at the Ministry of Culture from 1986 to 1988 before taking over as Development Director at Polygram Audiovisual from 1989 to 1993. She then worked as Manager at Noé Production from 1993 to 2003.
Some film productions she has handled include No Man's Land [trailer] by Danis Tanovic (2002 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film), Train of Life by Radu Mihaileanu, Dobermann by Jan Kounen and Milcho Manchevski’s Before the Rain (Golden Lion at the 1994 Venice Film Festival). Dumas was also President of the Film Producers Trade Union from 1997 to 1999 and occupied the presidency of the Features Commission at the Centre National de la Cinématographie from 2003 to 2005. She was also involved in politics as a regional adviser in the Ile de France region during the same period.
At the beginning of the summer, the telecoms operator expressed its fear about the merger between satellite giants Canal + and TPS (expected to be in place by early December), pointing out the risks of monopoly especially for film rights and that the acquisition of premium rights could be used to block access to emerging markets (mobile video, video on demand) – currently one of France Télécom’s key markets.
In September, the Canal Plus group reached an agreement with the Ministry of Finance not to acquire exclusive exhibition rights for pay per view (PPV) or video on demand (VoD) for upcoming contracts and to carry out "bona fide negotiations" in order to exploit the rights to current contracts on a non-exclusive basis.
For non recent French films, Canal + has promised not to sign or renew output deals with French producers and to carry out negotiations in order not to exploit exclusive PPV or VoD rights for foreign films.
For recent US films, the group has set a three-year cap on the duration of new or extended contracts with studios, and for the StudioCanal catalogue to give exhibition rights to films for PPV and VoD to "any service that makes such a request" under normal market conditions.
(Translated from French)