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Canal Plus Confirms Major Cull Of Up To 500 Staff In The Face Of Digital “Revolution”

Jul 9, 2019

French giant Canal Plus has confirmed last week’s media reports that it could lose up to to 500 staff as it responds to sectoral change.

In a statement today the company said that it will need to “transform its French activities…This could lead to the departure of a maximum of 492 people, conducted exclusively on a voluntary basis.” The company said this process will begin on July 15 and 16.

Canal Plus said the streamlining is necessary in order “to respond to the upheavals of the audiovisual sector and the transformation of its businesses.”

In the lengthy statement, the company pointed out that it has pursued international growth and digital investment in the face of market change, but admitted that these adjustments are “unfortunately still insufficient because the transformation of our sector has been like a revolution due to global platforms, which are digital natives and international in scope, and have considerable financial strength and have managed to escape the fiscal and regulatory constraints on the wider economy.”

Given the strength of fast-growing rivals such as Netflix, Canal Plus said streamlining is essential in order to “transform towards digitalisation and increase agility in the organization.”

The pay-TV giant has faced pressure from a declining subscriber base at home and deep-pocketed competitors for sports rights. It now has fewer domestic subscribers than Netflix.

Conversely, Vivendi-owned Canal in May signaled that it has an eye towards international with news that it was acquiring M7, an independent pay-TV company with operations in Benelux and Central Europe, for a purchase price of slightly over 1B euros ($1.12B). This is the largest overseas deal that Canal has done in about two decades and lifts its full subscriber base to about 20M worldwide.

The group has cut costs over the past few years, resulting in increased profitability in 2018. It shuttered its SVOD service CanalPlay last year and in March this year launched a series-only streaming service in France as it looks to claw back some of the online market being devoured by Netflix and others.

Sports rights have also been a serious issue as the company notably lost out on the French Premiere League to Spain’s Mediapro.

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