Since signature by Canal +, and by OCS on December 21st 2018 of the new windowing agreement for the French Film Industry, a long chapter of collective negotation has been closed. Before linging on the new applicable terms, a quick reminder has to be made : the windowing regulation consists in scaling the exploitation of films by different broadcasters, for each exploitation mode, within a specific exclusive time window. That's why a term shall be respected between the first day of exploitation in theaters and the Video exploitation of the film in France.
For many years this regulation has been discussed and has been subject to a mediation by Dominique Hinnin and François Hurard, that ended on March 19th 2018, et which report has created many controversy. Indeed some parties felt injustice, when their window has been reduced while others not enough protected or respected in this proposal.
The AFCAE (Association française des films d’arts et d’essai) has notably expressed its thoughts in regard of the possible diminishing of the theater window, but this window finally has been confirmed. On the other side ARP, SACD, SRF, SPI and UPC expressed their agreement on a video window that shall start earlier for all films, but such proposal finally has not been followed.
The Canal + and OCS channels finally weightenned a lot in the long discussions by refusing to sign before renegociating their financing agreements with the Industry. Finally with the help of the ministry, such signature could be achieved at the end of 2018, and new financing agreements could be settled.
The new windowing agreement states a shortened windowing period for all windows of exploitation, these windows being slipping windows in case of exemptions procedures applicable to unsuccessful films, and notably :
The theatrical exclusive window of 4 months, may be reduced to 3 months if exemption is granted to films gathering less than 100.000 entries within 4 weeks of their first exploitation date.
The same way, the video window is exclusive for 4 months and may be reduced to 3 months according to same procedure.
The first Pay tv window (Canal +) lasts 9 months and starts 8 months after first exploitation date or 6 months after in case of grant of the above exemption. Video exploitation may continue during this window.
The second Pay TV and SVOD submitted to Industry Agreement, lasts 5 months and starts 17 months after date of release in theaters or 15 months in case of grant of the above mentionned exemption.
The free TV window starts 22 months after the film release or 20 months in case of exemption.
It shall be noticed that the conditions of exploitation of VOD are complicated in this new chronology, and differenciate depending of an agreement with the Industry has been negotiated or not, and the respect by the platform of various obligations : investment in films, minimum of european works.. Free VOD and other VOD exploitations has been granted the latest windows after the free TV window, we will not detail here.
It is important to take into account the new regulation for production and exploitation of films on french territory, and the industry will have to adapt practices and contracts to such regulation.
It is finally interesting to note that the transposition of SMA directive will bprobably bring again new changes in this regulation when such directive will be transposed by the french authorities.