Stéphane Richard, the new CEO of France Télécom and its consumer arm Orange, has held informal talks with Rupert Murdoch about his buying its movie channels. Murdoch does not own any pay-TV channels in France, although Fox channels such as National Geographic are available there.
Orange Cinéma Séries is a bouquet of five channels available on TV, the internet and mobile phones. The movie channels and sister Orange Sports channels have attracted 800,000 paying subs between them. I would imagine Murdoch’s more interested in the sports channels than the movies. He’s always talked about sports being the battering ram for pay-TV. France Télécom, which is open to remaining a minority shareholder, wants somebody to share the cost of soccer rights with.
Richard has told the Financial Times that he wants to close the deal within a few weeks, freeing up France Télécom to concentrate on its core telephony business.
Orange launched Orange Cinéma Séries in November 2008, offering five channels: Orange cinemamax, for HD blockbuster; cinehappy, a family channel; cinehoc, for action films; cinenovo, for independent films’ and cinégéant, for classic films. It’s had an exclusive pay-TV deal with HBO (John Adams), and partnerships with US studios including Warner Bros, Disney and MGM, premiering shows such as Glee.