French windows (excuse the pun)

There are a few posts up here about how content regulation drives investment into film and TV, how the AVMS Directive is translated into national legislation and regulations, and on the general armoury that national governments have to shape the protection of their local cultural output (a problem that the UK has never really had before but may start having if we are not careful).

This is a big issue – perhaps the biggest one – facing the production sector and, though it is not an issue that is widely understood or discussed, getting it right is the most important challenge facing our sector.

One weapon in the armoury is the deal around ‘windows’ – the interval between something appearing in a cinema and being syndicated to TV or other markets (going to DVD, and before that, to VCR was the one that worried everyone in the past).

Now, Variety is reporting a snag in French negotiations where free-to-air broadcasters have always been allowed a free run at the screening of a production that it has acquired for an agreed period of time. If a free-to-air broadcaster screens a film, the SVoDs can’t offer it via their platform for an agreed period of time.

The studios are now fighting back.

It’s a complex and multi-layered issue that covers the French cinema levy as well, and that Variety article goes into detail about it, but it shows just how vulnerable cultural policy is in the face of aggressive lobbying and horse-trading between (US) studios and (national) governments in Europe will be.

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