France Télévisions & TF1 claim compensation for Canal+ free-to-view move

French broadcasters France Télévisions and TF1 have taken legal action against Canal+ and claimed over €40m ($46m) in compensation over the latter’s decision to air a number of movies free-to-view during the pandemic lockdown last year.

The pair have accused the pay TV broadcaster of ignoring France’s strict windowing regime by jumping the gun to show movies in the clear during their pay TV window.

The broadcasters have taken action with the Tribunal Judiciaire de Paris, alleging unfair competition, according to financial daily Les Echos.

France Televisions is claiming €40m in compensation for lost revenues, while commercial broadcaster TF1 is claiming €11.3m.

The windowing regime laid down that films released in cinemas that sold 100,000 tickets during their first four weeks could be broadcast on pay TV by Canal+ after a wait of eight months, followed by free-to-air rightsholders getting their turn after 22 months.

By breaking this embargo on free-to-air distribution, the two broadcasters allege, Canal+ infringed their rights and negatively impacted their future revenues.

Canal+ was heavily criticised at the time by figures in the French media world, including Pascal Rogard, chief executive of SACD, a copyright society representing authors, who accused the pay TV service of “behaving like a pirate”.

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