Bis repeated. This Friday around 8 a.m., Canal + announced via a press release to cut its customers “in mainland France” access to all the channels of the TF 1 group (TF 1, TMC, TFX, TF 1 Séries Films, LCI) as well as to their replay services. The measure penalizes satellite customers, dependent on Canal to access the small screen, i.e. nearly 3 million people. And 12% of the audience of TF 1. And even if 80% of Canal + subscribers who receive television via Internet boxes (Orange, Free, SFR, Bouygues) will continue to have normal access to the channels of the TF 1 group , the decision shakes up the media landscape.
“It is deplorable. The consumer is harmed, ”we attack on the side of the front page this Friday morning. Canal + for its part, justifies this radical decision by the failure of negotiations for a new distribution agreement with its competitor. The previous one, concluded in pain in 2018, expired on September 1 at midnight. Two months of negotiations failed to bring the two parties to an agreement. “We could have given ourselves a few days to find one,” we lament in the corridors of the front page.
Through this cut, of which it informed the public authorities in advance, Canal + intends to protest against the new conditions required by TF 1 to broadcast its channels. According to the Vivendi subsidiary, its competitor would have unilaterally changed the scope of the contract. “These are new distribution conditions that TF 1 is free to establish like any actor,” defends the Bouygues subsidiary.
Above all, TF 1 would demand a 50% increase in the amount to be paid to distribute its channels. “I have never seen such a request! chokes an experienced executive of Vivendi according to which TF 1 would now claim an amount close to 20 million euros per year to broadcast “what remains of the free linear channels”.
” Abuse of dominant position “
This figure of + 50% is considered “fanciful” by TF 1, which however recognizes a “price increase”, but in exchange for new services going “in the interest of the consumer”. Gilles Pélisson’s group stresses above all that it has reached new distribution agreements for two years with all the Internet service providers, Salto and Molotov, under conditions nevertheless similar to those offered to Canal .
Maxime Saada’s group sees it as an “abuse of a dominant position”. “TF 1 is in a logic of confrontation more than negotiation. The football World Cup that they will soon be broadcasting may have given them wings, but we also have it via BeIN Sports, which we distribute exclusively,” warns a Vivendi executive, who also wonders about the weight of the possible merger with M 6 in the current attitude of its competitor. Other sources familiar with the matter are questioning the timing of this cut and the media pressure it puts on TF 1, two days before the hearings before the Competition Authority in this strategic file.
This is not the first time that viewers find themselves embroiled in spite of themselves in the commercial disputes between the two groups. In March 2018, Canal + had already cut the TF 1 channels, with a clear impact on their audiences. After more than a week of standoffs and the resumption of negotiations, the Vivendi subsidiary had finally restored the signal, before concluding an agreement in November of the same year.
“Nobody is happy with the situation and we would have preferred to find an agreement”, we regret to Canal. “But in the face of outrageous demands, we are obliged to say stop”. It remains to be seen how long the cut will last for viewers. “Perhaps a long time”, warns Canal + which is preparing to hold out until the World Cup in Qatar… next November. According to our information, the negotiations are still in progress this Friday.