Ihe 2023 Cannes Film Festival has put the French cinema system back at the heart of the debate. Returning to the construction of this model makes it possible to better highlight its contradictions. Its singularity is based on an economic principle.
the additional special tax (TSA), created in 1948, was initially a response to the massive arrival of American films on post-war screens. Any entry made into the territory has since been subject to a levy of 11.6 %, i.e. a transfer of resources from the Hollywood industry (and world cinemas) to French cinema.
The National Cinematography Center (CNC), as the supervisory authority, redistributes the sum collected to representatives of the French sector, on the condition that the latter undertake a new project. This is a protectionist and productivist device.
Tax and investment obligations imposed on broadcasters
The attendance crisis of the 1980s was the occasion for an overhaul of this system. Operating income covered until this period 80% of financing needs. But the drop in admissions (from 201.1 million spectators in 1982 to 116 million in 1992 according to an information report from the Senate in May 2003) weakened production.
Negotiations between high administration, directors of television channels and cinema employers enabled new levers to be put in place: a tax and investment obligations imposed on broadcasters.
Since 1986, 3.2% of the budget of television channels has gone into a support account to the audiovisual program industry (Cosip), managed by the CNC, to which are added direct investments: thirty-five million euros, twenty-eight million and more than nine million, for France 2, France 3 and Arte in 2022, according to the CNC’s strategic performance document. Since this period, Canal+ has committed around 10% of its budget to film production, according to the key figures for audiovisual production in 2017, published by the CSA.
A horizon that has darkened in recent years
This system explains the sector’s paradox: a constant increase in production regardless of cinema attendance. Overall investment has increased, driven by the TSA, the contribution of the channels, the taxation of new media (DVD, VOD, etc.), regional aid, companies financing the film and audiovisual industry (Sofica), plus various tax incentives.
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