FMRG25 Canal+

The Cultural, Social and Political Impact of Canal+ on French Society

Friday 10 November 2017 - Room 2.22 Research Beehive, Old Library Building, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

Organised by Hugh DAUNCEY (Newcastle University), Jonathan ERVINE (Bangor University), Cathal KILCLINE (Galway University) and Douglas MORREY (Warwick University)

FMRG gratefully acknowledges financial assistance from ASMCF and the School of Modern Languages, Newcastle University.

The Old Library Building (OLB) is No. 25 on this Campus map. Arrive via the main pedestrian access to the campus, through Old Quadrangle, enter from the Percy Quadrangle and turn left immediately inside the OLB.


N.B. Times and order of speaking may change, please check here for details. Papers will be given in English.


09.30  Prof. Raymond KUHN (Queen Mary University, London): 'The origins of Canal+' Abstract KUHN

10.00 Dr Cécile WELKER (Institut des sciences de la communication, CNRS Paris-Sorbonne UPMC): 'In "L'oeil du cyclone": Canal+, and support for audiovisual innovation' Abstract WELKER

10.30 Héloïse BOUDON (Chaire Audiovisuel & Numérique / Laboratoire CARISM U-Paris 2 Panthéon-Assas, Laboratoire CEDITEC U-Paris Est-Créteil), Jérôme DAVID (Chaire Audiovisuel & Numérique / Laboratoire CARISM U-Paris Panthéon-Assas) and Dr Virginie SONET (Chaire Audiovisuel & Numérique / Laboratoire CARISM U-Paris 2 Panthéon-Assas, Laboratoire HAR U-Paris-Nanterre): 'Les enjeux politiques et culturels du label « Création Originale ». Le cas de la série Engrenages' Abstract BOUDON, DAVID, SONET

11.00 COFFEE

11.15 Dr Laurence LEVENEUR (Université de Toulouse Capitole):'The Le Gorafi satrical news website: the legacy of  'l’humour Canal+' ?' Abstract LEVENEUR

11.45 Dr Jonathan ERVINE (Bangor University): 'The impact of the Jamel Comedy Club on stand-up comedy in France' Abstract ERVINE

12.15 Dr Pierre-Emmanuel GUIGO (Sciences Po., Paris): 'French Socialist party leaders represented in Les Guignols de l'info : chronicles of an end of reign (1988-1995)' Abstract GUIGO

12.45 -14.00 LUNCH

14.00 Dr Isabelle VANDERSCHELDEN (Manchester Metropolitan University): 'Translating ‘l’esprit Canal’ into screenplays for cinema: Canal+’s role in the development of French comedies since 2000' Abstract VANDERSCHELDEN

14.30 Dr Christopher MEIR (Universidad Carlos III, Madrid): 'Studiocanal and French Cinema: National and Global Ambitions and Tensions within Canal Plus’s Film Production and Distribution Business' Abstract MEIR

15.00 Dr Mary HARROD (Warwick University): 'Channelling Globalism: Canal + as Transnational French Genre Film Producer' Abstract HARROD

15.30 TEA

15.45 Prof. Guy AUSTIN (Newcastle University): 'Les Revenants: a Canal+ television triumph which failed on return' Abstract AUSTIN

16.15 Dr Charlie MICHAEL (Visiting scholar, Institut national de l'audiovisuel, Paris): 'The Cultural Exception(s) of Pierre Lescure: from Canal+ to Molotov TV' Abstract MICHAEL

16.45 Dr Patricia CAILLÉ (Université de Strasbourg, CREM EA 3476) and Dr Claude FOREST (Université de Strasbourg, IRCAV):'From Canal Horizons to A+: Canal+’s conception of African cinema as a means to conquer the African market?' Abstract CAILLÉ, FOREST




Since its first programmes aired in 1984, Canal+ has played a role in shaping not just the paysage audiovisuel français but also French society, culture, politics and economics in many significant ways. Its presence has had a notable impact on French cinema, the televising and overall profile of top-level sport in France and also acted as a launch pad for the careers of many up-and-coming comedians and presenters. Perhaps more significant even than this role in fostering innovation in a wide range of cultural fields, Canal+ has arguably been a touch-stone of France's cultural, social and economic modernisation since the 1980s.

35 years after the idea of Canal+ was first announced by President Mitterrand in June 1982, it seems opportune to consider - as widely as possible - the impact of this iconic media-cultural organisation. This conference will explore how Canal+ has evolved during the past three decades and also the ways in which it will continue to do so in the future. Canal+ was launched in the 1980s in a period when French broadcasting was undergoing a phase of 'liberalisation' marking gradual and tentative disengagement from more dirigiste approaches to broadcasting and culture, and over the last three decades, Canal+ has been an ongoing force for change in television and culture generally, and an iconic example of private-sector innovation while France has struggled to come to terms with globalised competition and the need for the French economy to find new ways of ordering traditional relations between state, culture, the private and public sectors and workers.

Canal’s existence has also been punctuated by debates about the overall direction that it has taken under the leadership of a series of different owners (Havas, Vivendi, Bolloré) and CEOs (notably André Rousselet, Pierre Lescure, Xavier Couture and Bertrand Méheut, Jean Christophe Thierry). Most recently, since mid-2015, Vincent Bolloré’s chairmanship of Vivendi and of the group's subsidiary Canal+ has resulted in significant changes to flagship programmes such as the legendary satirical show Les Guignols and the Grand Journal, amid a flurry of concerns over the death of the so-called traditional 'esprit Canal' and aggressive cost-cutting and restructuring of both Canal+ and iTélé. 2015 and 2016 have seen ongoing changes to Canal+ policy, programming and staffing, frequent back-tracking and destabilising uncertainty. Foremost amongst concerns have been the fear that aggressive management tactics have conflicted with journalistic and creative freedom of expression.