Canal+, the Paris-based pay-TV company, reported a consolidated net loss (after minority interests) of US$326 million (FF2.2 billion) for 1999, and said they will likely record a ‘significant loss’ again in 2000. The company’s Italian operations are the primary financial drain. Without them, Canal+ says they would have reported a profit. Because pay-TV currently accounts for only 9% of the Italian market, Canal+ sees ‘considerable potential’ in the region. The company claims to be ‘still in the investment phase’ of its strategy to develop digital TV and expand in Europe.
One of their stated ambitions, according to chairman Pierre Lescure, is to become Europe’s leading multiservice television provider. To achieve this, Canal+ plans to create a 50-50 subsidiary with parent company Vivendi, combining internet activities. The new entity, Vivendi Net, would create a portal accessible from TVs, mobiles and PCs in a joint venture with Anglo-American telecommunications giant Vodafone, Canal+ claims. However, Vodafone’s involvement is conditional on a $170 billion hostile bid for German mobile phone company Mannesmann. Canal+ has also set aside US$214 million to introduce new internet set-top boxes, which will launch by the end of the year.
Anna Glogowski, deputy director of documentaries at Canal+ says the reported losses won’t directly affect her unit’s budget. ‘Expenses affect our budget. It’s the expenses in soccer and things like that which affect the other departments, and not losses which are related to investments around the world.’ Spending on docs will be about the same as last year, Glogowski says, though they’ve introduced a new element. For nine weeks this the summer, Canal+ will run a daily half-hour doc slot, devoted to social issues. They are interested in first-run one-offs, she says, and will look both at home and abroad for coproductions, pre-buys and acquisitions.