Canal+ CEO fears impact of web giants, Al Jazeera

Canal Plus CEO Bertrand Meheut is concerned that Internet giants such as Google and Apple and the country of Qatar, providing unlimited resources to TV group Al Jazeera, could upset the balance on which the audiovisual sector is able to develop.

Meheut, writing in French newspaper Le Monde, said he fears that global companies will lead to national production being relegated in favour of programmes formatted for the world market.

Internet players are coming up with new distribution methods that avoid any regulatory or fiscal constraints. Apple iTunes Europe is based in Luxembourg and Google in Ireland, to benefit from favourable fiscal regimes, compared to national operators such as Canal Plus, who pay taxes and support audiovisual creation. They are taking advantage of the arrival of connected TVs to make ‘standardised’ offers of content. Internet players are no longer satisfied with VoD, according to Meheut, citing YouTube for announcing the launch of 20 TV channels.

With Qatar’s Al Jazeera seemingly ready to outbid any rival in sports broadcasting rights auctions, it could spell the end of free-to-air sports in France and elsewhere, he suggested.

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