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Netflix explores French launch

Netflix is looking at moving into France after executives from the US online video service reportedly met French government officials to discuss a possible launch in the country.

Reuters reported yesterday’s Paris meeting while other reports named Netflix general counsel David Hyman and head of global government relations Christopher Libertelli as the execs courting the government’s media counsel David Kessler.

The Netflix reps also met Pascal Rogard, MD of French authors’ union Société des Auteurs Compositeurs Dramatiques – a powerful organisation in French cinema.

French legislation makes it difficult for subscription VoD services such as Netflix to operate in France, partly due to the heavy regulation of movie windows.

A film has to wait four months from its theatrical release before getting a home video or VoD release, 10 to 12 months before its pay TV broadcas and 22 to 36 months before it can be shown free-to-air.

SVoD services have to wait 36 months following a film’s theatrical release, although Netflix could get around the legislation by transmitting from a country outside France.

A recent anti-piracy report commissioned by the government suggested that the SVoD window should be reduced to 18 months, but French broadcasters, who don’t want platforms such as Netflix to receive special treatment, are opposed to it.

The complexity of the regulations has been slowing down Netflix’s expansion. However, according to French trade body Satellifax, in September the platform started to negotiate with French rights holders for a possible launch next year.

Netflix representatives will also visit Germany after France.

The news comes as the company gears up for the second season of its first original series House of Cards. All 13 episodes of the Kevin Spacey-starring political thriller will be released on February 14.

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