The French film industry demands that platforms pay up
by Valérie Ganne
- CANNES 2019: The CNC and SACD organised a discussion on the impact of new platforms on the French film landscape; key players were there, minus Netflix and Amazon, the main platforms concerned
For the last five years, it seems to have been a new Cannes ritual: a debate on the threat that platforms pose to the French film landscape. On Sunday 19 May, the CNC beach at the 72nd Cannes Film Festival hosted a discussion with the SACD on the impact of these key players.
Once again this year, neither Netflix nor Amazon deigned to grace the gathering with their presence. It was therefore up to the French participants to address the explosive effect that these new arrivals are having on the support system. As ever, the first solution is taxation. That same morning, Minister of Culture Franck Riester announced on the Croisette that, as an integral part of the next budget law, a taxation level of 5.5% of turnover would apply to all broadcasters operating in France (instead of the 2% that currently applies to platforms), thus striking a new balance between the "historical" and the new players – even those based abroad – and their adherence to the regulations. Everybody welcomed this initiative, which was alluded to by Pascal Rogard, managing director of the SACD, who was moderating the debate. MP Emilie Cariou, vice-president of the Finance Committee of the National Assembly, explained, “The shortfall from all the international players (including audiovisual operators) present on the European market is equivalent to €1,000 billion in taxes that still need to be collected. They will be taxed evenly, just as the platforms are even when it comes to the viewing habits of the audience.” As illustrated by the figures quoted by Olivier Henrard, managing director of the CNC, progress has been swift: “In 2018, the VoD market for both purchases and subscriptions increased by 40% and is now worth more than €600 million. And yet the investment that these platforms make in French creative output remains woeful: it was €35 million in 2018, compared to the one billion euros from the other historical French broadcasters... And that’s quite apart from the fact that French films account for a mere 22% of what’s available and 13% of consumption on US platforms.”
Another French solution, a public capital investment fund intended to benefit the cultural and creative industries, endowed with €225 million, was also announced by the Minister of Culture. According to Dominique Boutonnat, the author of a recent report on the development of private financing for cinema, around €100 million could be earmarked for this sector: "Giving a more solid structure to independent producers’ assets is a political act. We have to focus on the fight for content and artistic works." For Maxime Saada, CEO of Canal+, there are two solutions: "Ratcheting up the pressure via the tax law and the CNC, as well as a favourable media timeline, according to which the platforms will participate in creation to the same extent as Ciné+ - in other words, one euro per month, per subscriber."
As the only director in attendance (and the former CEO of Unifrance), Jean-Paul Salomé rounded off proceedings by specifying that platforms were nevertheless advantageous for French cinema, owing to “their international penetration – especially in certain countries where movie theatres are few and far between, or in territories that have not been sold yet. Recently, The Wolf’s Call [+see also:
film profile] by Antonin Baudry was bought by Netflix for a number of territories. Films can therefore both retain their value in terms of attracting people to theatres and earn money thanks to Netflix." Amazon’s purchase of Ladj Ly’s Les Misérables [+see also:
interview: Ladj Ly
film profile] (exclusively for the USA) for the tidy sum of €1.5 million is highly encouraging proof of this.
(Translated from French)
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