Canal + seeks to re-enter the Maghreb market with a new offer


After several years in which it stayed clear of North Africa because of high levels of piracy, francophone Pay-TV channel Canal + is seeking to re-enter the Moroccan market with a new offer.

The core of Canal +’s offer for its largely young viewers has been European Championship football matches and new films. By contrast, other channels like Al Jazeera sport and ART (a private Arab bouquet) offer a palette of sporting events for which they have rights for the Maghreb region.

In order to organise its counter-offensive, Canal + has put together an initial bouquet of 25 channels “which will be developed”, according to a spokesperson at its Paris headquarters. It will be ready for sale by the resellers in a couple of weeks time.

The new subscription will cost US$335 annually compared to Al Jazeera sport which sells for an annual price of just US$40 and ART which costs US$98.

As has happened in the past, such a high subscription price risks Maghreb subscribers simply buying “cloned” French access cards to be able to see the channel. Indeed, Canal +’s French bouquets offer a much wider range of sport and films, including the X-rated films that are removed from overseas bouquets. Four cinema channels are retained: Ciné Star, Ciné Frisson, Canal + Family and Canal + Cinéma. Other channels include: MTV France, Game One, Piwi, TVBreizh, Planète and Histoire. It also shows the three channels of France Télévision (F2, F3 and F5).

According to Canal Overseas, the subsidiary responsible for Canal + outside France, 10 million households are equipped to receive satellite programming in the Maghreb, Libya and Mauritania. The signal will move from analogue to digital in 2011. It is transmitted by Arabsat (Badr 6) in order to minimise the risk that the signal will spill over into parts of southern France.

At the end of 2008 TPS, which was bought back by CanalSat, adopted the Viaccess 2.5 encryption system. Faced with this hurdle, Algerian pirates found a way of overcoming the encryption and started selling a pirate card for 15 euros which could last anything from 10 days to a season.

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