After months of heated negotiations, a new agreement on the chronology of the media is put in place in France. What are the new broadcast windows now planned?
The end of a long marathon. This Monday, January 24, French cinema and the main representatives of the audiovisual sector signed a new agreement on the chronology of the Media at the Ministry of Culture. For the record, itit governs the dates on which films can be shown, online and on television in particular, in the months following their cinema release. These rules, which must protect creation, have been the subject of intense negotiations since the rise of streaming platforms, which are upsetting the situation.
Negotiations all the more complicated in fact that they had to integrate a new parameter: the transposition of a European directive, called SMA. Acronym of “Audiovisual Media Services”, it aims in particular to relax the restrictions applicable to television, and to extend certain audiovisual rules to video-sharing platforms as well as to audiovisual content shared on certain social media services.
The framework of the new agreement
According to our colleagues from boxofficepro, who witnessed the signing of the agreement, the theater’s operating window remains unchanged. Or an exclusivity of 4 months, reduced to 3 months if the film has registered less than 100,000 admissions in 4 weeks. At the end of this window opens that of the video on demand to the act (VOD) and the physical edition (DVD and Blu-ray).
“The capital stone of the agreement is the absolute need to preserve this cultural and economic capital that is the cinema in our country” welcomed Roselyne Bachelot, Minister of Culture, commenting ce new agreement signed for three years; until 2024 then. With a first assessment which will be carried out in 12 months.
“The cinema remains, in France, the place where an audiovisual work becomes a film” abounds on his side Richard Patry, the president of the FNCF, the National Federation of French Cinemas. For him, maintaining this exclusive 4-month operating window for theaters “reaffirms the French cultural exception. We have succeeded in integrating the newcomers – hitherto reluctant to share their works with the audience of the room –, while preserving the place of the old and increasing the financing capacity of French cinema “.
For pay TV channels
It is now possible, for pay-TV channels such as Canal+ or OCS, to start its broadcast window from 6 months in the event of an agreement with professional film organisations. This is precisely the case for Canal+, signatory of an agreement last December, which planned to extend “until at least 2024 the partnership between Canal+ and the French cinema sector”, and one “guaranteed investment of more than 600 million euros for the next three years in French and European cinema for Canal+ and Ciné+”. That is €200 million per year, tacitly renewable. We came back in detail here on this agreement.
If there is no agreement, these channels will be able to broadcast the works 9 months after their theatrical release.
For Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+
Netflix: 15 months after the theatrical release
Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video: 17 months after the theatrical release
Until today, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ or AppleTV+ could broadcast a film on their platform 36 months after its theatrical release; or 17 months if these streaming players had invested heavily in production.
In June 2021, the decree relating to on-demand audiovisual media services (SMAD), with which the platforms mentioned above are associated, specified that they had to contribute 20% of their French turnover to French and European creation, including 80% for audiovisual production and 20% for cinema. In other words, investing between €250 and €300 million “full year”.
These SMADs by subscription now have 3 possibilities:
- exploitation from 6 months in the event of an agreement similar to that of Canal+: commitment to pre-financing and broadcasting of European and French-language films; editorial engagement; financial commitment on the basis of a guaranteed minimum and investment diversity clause, while respecting legislation and intellectual property rights. The agreement also defines the period of exclusivity.
- exploitation from 15 months, if the platform respects the legislation and intellectual property rights and has concluded an agreement, which cannot exceed 7 months of exclusivity;
- exploitation from 17 months without agreement, which cannot exceed 5 months of exclusivity (i.e. until the 22nd month).
“This agreement is a significant first step in modernizing the media timeline. It reflects our constructive approach throughout the negotiation process and our commitment to contributing to French cinema” commented a Netflix spokesperson, quoted by The world.
The Redmond company thus undertakes to produce at least 10 films a year and to invest an average of €40 million, or 4% of its turnover in France. However, his films produced outside France will still not be released in theaters here. In fact, these will not be subject to any deadlines. Netflix is doing against bad luck with a good heart: initially, it was a question of the platform being able to benefit from a broadcasting time of 12 months, and not 15…
For free-to-air TV channels (TF1, France Télévisions, Arte, etc.)
Free-to-air TV channels see their broadcast window reduced to 22 months, compared to 30 months in the old timeline. This window will be possible if the channel invests at least 3.2% of its turnover.
If the film has not been acquired by a paying channel or an SMAD, this period is reduced to 19 months. The period of exclusivity cannot exceed 14 months, with the possibility, by agreement, of increasing this period, exclusively or not. In addition, they will be able to sign agreements with the platforms to open “co-exclusivity periods” where the consumer will have the choice between free channel or SVOD platform.
For non-paying SMADs
This type of service will be able to exploit a work 36 months after its theatrical release.
Note also the possibility for documentaries and dramas under €1.5 million to be released 12 months after their release, if they have not been purchased by any television channel or SMAD by subscription.
To be a little clearer, here is a small summary table:
Enthusiasm is still tempered, already on the side of Saced. If the Society of Dramatic Authors and Composers salutes “the CNC’s mediation efforts” and acknowledges that the agreement “contains necessary advances that deserve to be highlighted”, the organization nevertheless refused to sign it.
In a press release published a handful of hours after the signature, the Sacd specifies: “No one can imagine that the terms of this agreement can now remain in force for a period of three years. The rapid changes in the sector in terms of supply, technology and demand will inevitably lead to a rapid evolution of the place cinema in all the offers available on the French market. The conclusion of this agreement for a period of 3 years therefore appears both incomprehensible and unreasonable”.
In addition, it should be noted that only Netflix, among the other platforms such as Disney +, Amazon Prime Video or Apple TV, has signed this agreement. For the record, in September 2020, Disney threatened to boycott cinemas in France. And it wasn’t because the firm no longer believed in the big screen; this was to avoid the constraints of the French media chronology.
“We believe that the new media chronology does not establish a fair and proportionate framework between the different players in the audiovisual ecosystem. This is all the more frustrating as we have increased our investments in the creation of original French content” has also commented Disney.
A constraint which will also concern, incidentally, the future platform of Warner Media, HBO Max, whose establishment in France is planned for 2023.