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Spring clean at Canal+


- Changes at network begins to bite, with staff cuts and a new set-up for subsidiaries

France’s leading pay-TV Canal+ is undergoing a radical makeover that included last week’s firing of its MD, Richard Lenormand. More changes are likely to follow the presentation early in February of consultants Cap Gémini’s report into the network.
Lenormand’s departure had been on the cards for several months, but it means the end of an era for StudioCanal where projects are at an all-time low : in 2002 just 15 films were produced compared to 66 in 2001. The fact that the StudioCanal team is continuously changing its components hardly helps. Last July the deputy head of the channel and its head of production, Brahmin Chioua, left to set up his own company called Exception. He was soon joined by Vincent Maraval and the entire international sales office of Wild Bunch. The latest new arrivals are Juliette Renaud, former head of foreign acquisitions at Canal+, and Isabelle Peyrefitte, the former head of Studio Images. This mass exodus is likely to end with the number of StudioCanal employees dropping from 350 to around 100.
On the production side, Xavier Couture, the general manager of the Canal+ group announced his intention to limit losses that have been steadily accumulating since 1997.
The pay-TV is about to enter a short but sharp rationalisation phase that is likely to result in a second general re-organisation, following that of June 2001 when 217 employees lost their jobs.

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Although it has yet to be presented, rumours are rife as to the findings of the Cap Gémini Report. The Canal+ Group is said to have some 2000 distinct subsidiary companies that the Cap Gémini experts suggest be divided into two distinct sectors. The exact entity of job losses will depend heavily on the successful sale of Canal+ audiovisual production arm, Expand.
Given that they receive between 20 per cent and 25 per cent of their funds from Canal+, French film industry operators are following every step of this convoluted story and fear for the negative knock-on effect on Gallic cinema as a whole. One piece of very welcome good news did however emerge on 21 January when the French authority for competition stopped the pay-TV from getting the broadcast rights to the French soccer championship for 2004-2007 that Canal+ was ready to fork out Euros480million for.

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(Translated from French)

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