Canal+ chairman Vincent Bolloré has threatened to close down the broadcaster’s loss-making premium pay-TV channels if their balance sheets fail to improve in the coming months. Talking at Vivendi’s general meeting of shareholders, Bolloré warned that Canal+ Group could divest the pay-TV unit to concentrate on its distribution activities (Canalsat, Canal Overseas, StudioCanal) with beIN Sports, with whom negotiations about an exclusive sporting events distribution deal are ongoing.
“If Canal+ keeps losing money, there won’t be any more Canal+ as a channel,” he said. In 2015, Canal+’s pay-TV subscriber base in France dropped significantly and losses reached €264 million. Forecasts indicate that without remedial action, they could jump to €400 million this year. “We are in a period of bankruptcy, like Canal+ has already know in the past.”
Bolloré, who estimates the total debts of the group at €1 billion, nevertheless still believes that Canal+ is a key factor in Vivendi’s plan to become a leading content group in Europe. In efforts to balance the books, a drastic cost-cutting plan is under way, including the unpopular at move at Canal+ whose Cannes’s Film festival coverage will be reduced to a strict minimum.
ITélé’s news DTT channel is also in the firing line, as it could lose €25 million this year, according to Bolloré, adding to €20 million losses in 2015. It contrasts with the healthier economic situation of the two others free TV channels, D8 and D17, which are set to rebrand next autumn into C8 and C17 to meet Vivendi’s strategy of synergies within the group.