regulatory function : regulation of film-television relations

Obligations for the broadcast of films

The rules relating to the broadcast of films by television channels are set out in decree no. 90-66 of 17 January 1990, pursuant to law no. 86-1067 of 30 September 1986.

They apply to long films, i.e. films longer than one hour. The law distinguishes between different categories of television services :

  • services other than film (“general”)
  • film services
  • pay-per-view services
  • multiple programming services.


Some aspects of the regulation may therefore vary depending on the type of television service concerned, whether broadcast on terrestrial, cable or satellite channels.


Definitions of television services

Film services : television services primarily programming films and programmes devoted to the cinema and its history, and subject to a specific subscription.

Within film services, a distinction is made between :

  • first broadcast services, that broadcast annually at least one film as an exclusive first television broadcast (excluding pay-per-view) or more than 10 film works in second exclusivity, within 36 months of first being screened in cinemas
  • first exclusivity services, category of first exhibition services that broadcast annually at least 75 films as an exclusive first television broadcast within 36 months of first being screened in cinemas (at least 10 of which are original French language films for which the rights were pre-purchased, i.e. bought before filming ends)
  • film heritage services, exclusively broadcasting films at least 30 years after they were first screened in cinemas in France.
  • pay-per-view services : television services requiring payment by users directly linked either to the duration of the service or the programme.
  • multiple programming services : television services rebroadcasting in full or in part in several programmes (the obligations listed below must be respected for each of these programmes rather than the service as a whole).


The quotas for broadcast of european films and original french language films

All types of television services must reserve at least 60% of the total annual number of film broadcasts and reruns to european works and 40% to original french language works.
First film broadcast services may benefit from a more flexible rule, on the understanding that the minimum proportions to respect are 50% for European works and 35% for original French language works.
These quotas must also be respected in prime time slots, in particular :

  • times between 8.30pm and 10.30pm for services that are not film services
  • times between 6pm and 2am for film services and pay-per-view services


The maximum annual number of films broadcast

The maximum number of feature films that may be broadcast per year depends on the type of service :

  • for film and pay-per-view services: 500 different works
  • for the other services : 192 works in number of broadcasts and reruns (with a maximum of 144 between 8.30pm and 10.30pm), with an option of 52 additional experimental films if they are not broadcast between 8.30pm and 10.30pm.


The programming schedule for films

The decree controls the programming of films, which may not be broadcast at certain times on certain days of the week. Bans on film broadcasts differ depending on the type of service.

for first exclusivity film services :

  • broadcast ban on Saturdays from 6pm to 11pm for works that achieved in the first year of their exhibition in cinemas a certain number of admissions, determined by ministry of culture decree
  • broadcast ban on Sundays from 1pm to 6pm


for film heritage services :

  • broadcast ban on Saturdays from 6pm to 11pm
  • on Sundays between 1pm and 6pm only films in black and white may be broadcast


for the other film services, broadcast ban on :

  • Fridays from 6pm to 9pm
  • Saturdays from 6pm to 11pm
  • Sundays from 1pm to 6pm


for pay-per-view services :

  • broadcast ban on Saturdays between 6pm and 10.30pm


for “general” services (other than film and pay-per-view), broadcast ban on :

  • Wednesday and Friday evenings (except experimental films after 10.30pm)
  • Saturdays
  • Sundays before 8.30pm


Film production obligations

Several decrees, made in application of the law no. 86-1067 of 30 September 1986, stipulate the obligations of television service providers in terms of contributing to film production. These production obligations differ depending on the channels method of broadcast: unscrambled analogue terrestrial broadcast, scrambled analogue terrestrial broadcast, broadcast by terrestrial digital means, broadcast by cable or satellite.

The obligations of unscrambled analogue terrestrial broadcast
(decree no. 2001-609 of 9 July 2001)

When they broadcast at least 52 films per year, unscrambled analogue terrestrial channels must devote at least 3.2% of their turnover each year to production of European films, with a portion devoted to original French language works representing at least 2.4% of the turnover.

The expenses allowed in respect of this obligation are pre-purchase of broadcast rights, investments in producer shares and sums spent on distribution in cinemas.

In addition, three quarters of these expenses must be devoted to the development of independent production, according to criteria relating firstly to the means to exhibit the film and secondly to capital arrangements between the channel and the production company.

The obligations of scrambled analogue terrestrial channels
(decree no. 2001-1332 of 28 December 2001)

The following regulation applies to service providers of films broadcast by terrestrial means in analogue mode requiring payment by users (Canal plus).
These channels are required to devote at least 12% and 9% of their total resources respectively to the purchase of broadcast rights on European films and original French language films.
Furthermore, these investments cannot be lower than a minimum amount per subscriber set by agreement with the CSA.
At least 80% of the production obligation for original French language works must concern pre-purchases (exclusive rights acquired before the filming ends).
These channels are also subject to the obligation regarding independent production for at least three quarters of their purchase expenditure on broadcast rights, again according to criteria relating to the work and the company that produced it.

The obligations of channels broadcast by terrestrial means in digital mode
(decree no. 2001-1333 of 28 December 2001)

The public and private channels available in digital form, but already broadcast in analogue mode (France 2, France 3, France 5, TF1, M6, Canal plus), and falling under the systems listed above, are not concerned by the specific rules for digital terrestrial television.
The production obligations of digital terrestrial television (DTT) channels differ depending on the type of service: “general” services, film services, pay-per-view services.

The production obligations of general DTT channels

These obligations concern free (or unscrambled) channels and paying channels other than film or pay-per-view channels, when they broadcast at least 52 different films per year.
They are identical to those for unscrambled analogue terrestrial channels as regards the proportion of turnover to be devoted to film production and the share to be allocated to independent production (see The obligations of unscrambled analogue terrestrial broadcast ).
The proportions may however be met gradually, according to the methods defined by CSA agreements or mission specifications (public channels).
Furthermore, the expenses allowed to fulfil their obligations may include purchase of broadcast rights in addition to pre-purchases and producer shares.

However, they exclude sums spent on exhibition in cinemas.

The production obligations of DTT film channels

First broadcast film channels (see Definitions of television services) must devote at least 26% of their total resources to the purchase of broadcast rights for European films, with the share for original French language films representing at least 22% of resources.
In addition, these investments cannot be lower than a minimum amount per subscriber set by agreement with the CSA.
For the other film channels, the proportions amount to 21% and 17% of total resources respectively for European works and original French language works.
These different proportions may however be met gradually, according to the methods defined by CSA agreements.

Finally, DTT film channels must also devote at least three quarters of their expenditure to independent production.

The production obligations of DTT pay-per-view channels

The regulation refers back to the agreements made with the CSA specifying the minimum share of resources to be devoted to the purchase of broadcast rights for European films or original French language films, as well as the share to be allocated to independent production.

The obligations of channels broadcast by cable or satellite
(decree no. 2002-140 of 4 February 2002)

Cable or satellite channels are subject to the same obligations as the various channels broadcast by terrestrial means in digital mode (see The obligations of channels broadcast by terrestrial means in digital mode ), depending on the type of services (film, pay-per-view or “general”).

However, film heritage channels have the option of including expenses devoted to the safeguard, restoration or improvement of works under their obligations.