As part of the SMAD decree published in June 2021, the CSA (newly ARCOM) signed agreements with Amazon, Disney+ and Netflix in December 2021, to complete the provisions of the decree and organize the investment terms of their signatories.
SMAD decree provides for the financial participation of platforms in audiovisual and cinematographic works, by expressly referring to the conventions and specifications established with the CSA, regarding the distribution between cinematographic works and audiovisual works. Decree also establishes a floor at 20% of the total contribution for both cinematographic and audiovisual works, or 30% for the benefit of cinematographic works in the case of a contribution of 25% of the net turnover (i.e. when the SVOD platform offers annually at least one long-lasting cinematographic work within a period of less than twelve months after its release in France).
First of all, it should be noted that the conventions concluded in December only organize the modalities for the audiovisual part – Indeed, platforms considered that the conditions were not met to define the modalities of their contribution in the cinematographic field. These conventions are thus necessarily incomplete.
Moreover, these three conventions strictly apply the floors by providing for a distribution of 80% for audiovisual works and only 20% for cinematographic works. In this sense, cinematographic works are very strongly disadvantaged.
Regarding the type of audiovisual works supported, the agreements establish minimums, applicable from 2022. Accordingly, in all agreements, the total share of original French-language works receiving funding is set at 75%.
However, the rates per genre and the share of independent production vary depending on the platform:
The platform made commitments to invest 3.5% in animation and 1.5% in documentaries. In both cases, 66% of these investments must be made for independent production and 60% for OEFs.
It is surprising that the share of animation is so low, even though the platform targets a young audience.
The platform took an investment commitment for animation is 4.4%, of which 66% are reserved for independent production and one of solely 0.6% for documentaries, with no other conditions. In terms of figures, this corresponds to an investment of one million euros out of 160 million investments in audiovisual production.
Amazon Prime Video
The platform made the following commitments: 3% for documentaries and the recording or recreation of live performances, intended entirely for independent production. No commitment is made to animation, even though the platform offers many youth animation programs.
The producer’s unions strongly criticized the agreements signed, all the more as there was no inter-professional negotiation between the parties involved, under the guise of reaching an agreement quickly.
The low shares dedicated to animation and documentaries were noted, as well as the lowering of the commitment of the approved platforms to original French-language works (EOF) by 10% compared to what is provided for in the SMAD decree.
Thus the SPI noted that the diversity clauses for the benefit of several genres have a totally marginal impact.
Anim France claims that « the CSA absolutely did not defend the diversity of French independent creation with the platforms », followed by many documentary producers.
Regarding cinematographic films, as part of the negotiations on the media chronology, which saw the Netflix window advanced from + 36 months to + 15 months after theatrical release, French cinema organizations and Netflix concluded the first agreement between the cinema and a SMAD in February 2022
Under this agreement and for a period of three years, Netflix undertakes to make its contribution to cinematographic works as follows: at least 30 million euros per year in the creation of original French-language films, at least 17% of the amount of pre-financing in the financing of original French-language works with a budget of less than or equal to 4 million euros and a minimum of 10 pre-financed films per year.
Producers welcomed the signing of this agreement – even if the effects of its application are still expected as well as the agreements with other platforms and room for improvements remains.
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