Envisaged by the President of the Republic as a key issue of his first mandate, the media and audiovisual reform aims to modernize the current legal framework, in particular the funding commitments for audiovisual production and French cinema, but also to regulate the video on-demand platform environment.
In the context of a growing demand for audiovisual works, in particular the rise of on-demand audiovisual media services (AVMS), the Government had already adopted several legislative and regulatory texts, in particular Ordinance No. 2020-1642 of the December 21, 2020 and its implementing decree no. 2021-793 of June 22, 2021, both relating to on-demand AVMS imposing financing obligations to contribute to development and production, in particular for foreign platforms. These provisions implemented the AVMS Directive. Yet the government still had the final instruments to adopt – a task that has now been accomplished.
On the one hand, the new and awaited “Media Chronology” Agreement was signed on January 24, 2022, governing the pace of film releases on the various distribution channels (cinema, DVD, pay-per-view, pay-TV and free, video by subscription, etc.) between film professionals and broadcasters. The Media Chronology, pursuant to Articles L. 231-1 et seq. of the Cinema and Moving Image Code, provides for the deadlines applicable to the various media for the use of cinematographic works and is determined by an interprofessional agreement. The overhaul of the media chronology was a major request from on-demand AVMS suppliers, which they considered justified in view of their new participation in the financing of French audiovisual and cinematographic production.
In essence, this new “media timeline” agreement provides that on-demand AVMS providers who have signed the agreement will be able to stream films starting 15 months after their theatrical release, while on-demand AVMS providers who have not signed the agreement, will be granted a period of 17 months (compared to 36 months in the previous framework). Similarly, pay TV channels will be able to broadcast films from 6 months after their theatrical release (compared to 8 months under the previous framework). In addition, the broadcast period of traditional media services remains the same at 22 months. Incidentally, cinematographic films, which are never shown in cinemas, and therefore directly broadcast via the AVMS on demand, are not subject to the Agreement.
In addition to the agreement, a decree of February 4, 2022 extended the scope of the agreement signed by professional film organizations and representatives of broadcasters to all interested companies. The Accord has the triple objective of ensuring; the widest possible access to works for spectators, the investment of broadcasters in the production and development of cinematographic creation. The Minister of Culture hailed this agreement as “the last stage of the ambitious transposition process” of the AVMS directive.
On the other hand, following the AVMS Decree obliging foreign actors to participate in French financing, the Government finally adopted, a few weeks earlier, on December 30, 2021, the new CabSat and Hertzian TV Decrees (respectively Decree n° 2021- 1924 and decree no. 2021-1926) setting the financial contribution of so-called traditional broadcasters to cinematographic development.
These decrees aim to simplify the regulatory framework, by referring more to the agreements concluded between broadcasters and ARCOM and to inter-professional agreements, and also to guarantee a certain equity between linear and non-linear services and between national services and extra-national operators. .