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Highlights - 08/11/2008


5 Questions to Anne Durupty, Deputy Director of the CNC,on the French VoD market



"This development ought to be a tool that genuinely helps to promote diversity"
What types of operator are present on the French VoD market?

The development of digital technology and high-speed Internet has allowed new ways of exhibiting films to emerge, in particular video on demand (VoD), which, in France, boasts the largest number of platforms anywhere in Europe.
In September 2008, there were 43 platforms offering VoD services in France. VoD operators, who comprise not only the traditional players in this sector, but also new arrivals, can be grouped into 4 main categories: television channels, independent rights holders - either individually or in combination (MK2 VoD, Universciné, FilmoTV), players in the physical video and cultural product distribution sectors (Fnac, Virgin, Glowria) and Internet service providers.

What is cinema's position within the current VOD offering?

According to the most recent count undertaken at the end of May 2008 within the context of the Monitor set up by the CNC, more than 3,200 cinema films are available on the main platforms. This figure is constantly increasing, with 411 titles having been added since January 2008 (+ 14.6%) and more than 1,000 titles since autumn 2007. French films account for 46.3% of this offering. Archive films (released in cinemas more than three years previously) make up more than 85% of the films available on VoD. Close to a quarter of the films on offer (23.7%) achieved more than a million admissions at the box office.

You would assume that these new offerings are making it possible to capture a new, younger audience. Is that the case?

At this stage it is a little early to answer the question regarding the profile of VoD users. What we are seeing, according to the most recent results of the barometer carried out by Harris Interactive on behalf of the CNC, is that awareness of VoD is continuing to rise steadily. Almost 80% of Internet users are familiar with VoD, compared with 70% in December 2007. What is essential, in any case, is that the legal offering of films online becomes an alternative to piracy for young people.

How does the CNC view the coexistence of these media with the film theatre?

The increase in the number of media is both inescapable and extremely positive as far as the dissemination of culture is concerned. We should welcome the development of these different ways of accessing images, which complement each other and present a real opportunity for the filmmaking industry, one that is capable of giving the exhibition of French and European audiovisual and cinematic works an even greater boost. This development ought to be a tool that genuinely helps to promote diversity. That is why, if we want the legal offering of films via VoD to develop smoothly and sustainably within our audiovisual landscape, we need to adapt the media release timetable, in line with France's agreements on the development and protection of cultural works (the "accords de l'Elysée"). Having said that, this timetable must evolve with due respect for all forms of exhibition. We will need to ensure that each form has its place within a peaceful coexistence and that none of them is penalised, especially the film theatre, which must retain its role as a driving force and its privileged position when it comes to distributing and raising awareness of films. The cinema must remain the place where films are discovered and their reputation is established - this is a key condition if a film is to subsequently spread out onto other distribution channels. Without the film theatre, there is no cinema.
This is the whole thinking behind the media release timetable to which we are all very much attached and which will form the focus of the discussions that we will be entering into shortly with professionals on this subject.

How is the CNC responding to any difficulties encountered by independents to ensure there is a diverse offering available on these media?

The goal being pursued by the CNC in particular is obviously to promote a VoD offering that is as diversified as possible and in which there is plenty of space for independent production. It was with this aim in mind that the CNC set out, initially on an experimental basis, to assist the development of the VoD market through the support measures launched last April. The financial incentive that we are offering with these calls for proposals relating to VoD is aimed at promoting the exhibition of European works and the diversity of the films on offer on the various platforms - Internet and TV over IP. To ensure that tools for virtual distribution promote cultural diversity and access to films, there must be a coexistence between "online shops" that are capable of exhibiting and promoting not only the most "commercial" works, but also those with a narrower audience, and VoD services that are particularly demanding from an editorial point of view.

The interview was conducted over the Internet by Jb Selliez

November 2008

Thanks to Stéphanie Gavardin