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Canal+ (French TV channel)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Headquarters50 rue Camille Desmoulins, 92130, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France
Picture format1080i HDTV
(downscaled to 16:9 576i for the SDTV feed)
ParentCanal+ Group
Launched1983; 41 years ago (1983) (company)
4 November 1984; 39 years ago (1984-11-04) (channel)
FounderPierre Lescure
André Rousselet
TNTChannel 4 (Metropolitan France)

Canal+ (French: [kanalplys], meaning "Channel Plus"), also spelt Canal Plus and sometimes abbreviated C+ or Canal, is a French premium television channel owned by the Groupe Canal+. The channel was launched in November 1984, and broadcasts to Metropolitan France. It broadcasts several kinds of programming, mostly encrypted, but some unencrypted content can be viewed free of charge.

Canal+ was co-founded by André Rousselet and Pierre Lescure. An early pioneer was Alain de Greef [fr], who joined in 1986.

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First logo, 1984–1995

Canal+ was launched in November 1984, when there were only three government-owned channels available in France.[1] The company was co-founded by André Rousselet, president of the French multinational advertising company Havas,[1] and Pierre Lescure (born c. 1945), who proved very popular with media professionals and politicians.[2] It got off to a slow start, and some politicians, including prime minister Laurent Fabius, railed against the idea of having a commercial TV channel. However, Rousselet was a personal friend of the president, François Mitterrand, and so obtained favourable terms for the setup. Pierre Lescure was director-general at that time. A combination of political connections and clever programming – giving the French public American hit comedies and French drama not available on the government channels – worked and subscriptions soon increased. Government regulations required that the channel give several hours of free programming each day, which was used by Canal+ to promote the subscription service.[1] Its first logo was used from inception until 1995.[citation needed]

The channel initially had to use 45% of its air-time on films, until the film industry pushed back. Sport, interview shows, documentaries, and soft pornography joined films as the main staples of programming at this time.[1] Starting in 1985, Canal+ has had a tradition of showing one pornographic film every month at midnight, generally on the first Saturday of the month.[3] In 1985, the government opened up the market to other private commercial television stations, offering some serious competition. However, aggressive marketing and policies ensured that the company kept growing.[1]

Alain de Greef [fr] (c. 1947 – 29 June 2015) joined in 1986[4] joining his longtime friend Pierre Lescure. De Greef was first appointed director of production, then head of programmes, and finally as director general (1986–2000).[5] De Greef was later described as a pioneer and visionary, who set the tone and created the "Canal Plus spirit", which embodied anti-conformism along with edgy satire that became very popular. He created the satirical puppet show Les Guignols de l'Info and cult talk shows Nulle part ailleurs,[4] Groland, and Les Deschiens.[citation needed]

In 1987, Canal+ went public. By 1989, Canal+ had almost three million subscribers. The company expanded into some European markets, notably Belgium, Spain, and Germany, and started setting up subsidiaries as it developed into Groupe Canal+.[1]

In 1994 Rousselet quit the board, and was replaced by director-general Lescure.[1]

Digital satellite provider CanalSatellite was launched as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Canal+ on 6 December 1991. On 27 April 1996, Canal+ received two new sister channels: Canal+ Jaune and Canal+ Bleu.[6] A fourth channel, called Canal+ Vert, came along on 31 August 1998. The channels changed their names to Canal+ Confort (now known as Canal+ Décalé since 2005), Canal+ Cinéma, and Canal+ Sport on 1 November 2003.

In January 2000, the Lagardère Group purchased a major stake in the digital television division.[7][8] In December 2000, Vivendi acquired Canal+.[9] In 2001, co-founder Alain De Greef was fired from his position as director-general and replaced by Michel Denisot, when the organisation was restructured under the leadership of Jean-Marie Messier, chief executive of Vivendi.[5] Criticism of Vivendi's poor share performance since the takeover grew, and in April 2002, De Greef's co-founder and CEO Pierre Lescure, clashed with Messier and was fired.[2]

An alternative logo was used between 2006 and 2009.

Alternative logo, 2006–2009

In September 2005, Canal+, Canal+ Cinéma and Canal+ Sport started broadcasting in the French digital terrestrial television network. The free-to-air parts of Canal+ had already been broadcasting for a few months by then. In August 2008, Canal+ started broadcasting the encrypted parts of its main channel in high-definition in the terrestrial network. Canal+ announced plans to turn off the analogue terrestrial signals by 2010.[10]

In April 2014, Ligue 1, France's top association football league, sold broadcast rights for 2016–2020 to Canal+ for 726 million euros.[11]


Canal+ broadcasts to Metropolitan France. Its programming is mostly encrypted, but some unencrypted programming can be viewed free of charge. The channel does not broadcast advertising, except when broadcasting on free-to-air slots. Almost all foreign films and series can be viewed either in their original language with French subtitles (on a secondary audio channel) or dubbed in French. All programs are subtitled in French for deaf people and those who struggle with hearing. Some programs also have audio description for those who are visually impaired.[citation needed]

Canal+ is a supporter of the Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV (HbbTV) initiative, which promotes and establishes an open European standard for hybrid set-top boxes for the reception of broadcast TV and broadband multimedia applications with a single user interface.[citation needed]



Originally, subscribers would be mailed a code to punch in on their decoder's control panel to view the encrypted service (using the RITC Discret 1 system); the code would be based upon the decoder's serial number (stored in the box's ROM). To avoid problems with customer's codes being not delivered on time by the postal system, Canal+ would switch to encryption based on a generic key, between the last day of the month (beginning at midnight) and the first Monday of the next month (until 9 AM). During this time, all decoders—even those with lapsed subscriptions—would be able to view the channel.[12]

However, signal piracy was rampant, especially after the magazine Radio Plans printed decoder plans in their December 1984 issue. As a result of this, Canal+ switched to the much stronger Nagravision encryption system beginning in 1992; the Discret system was fully phased out by 1995. The new decoders utilised smart cards, cut into the shape of a key and inserted into the front of the decoder. Different decoders using the D2-MAC standard were also deployed during this time, mostly for cable subscribers. With the launch of CanalSatellite, the Mediaguard encryption system was instituted, created by SECA (Société Européenne de Contrôle d'Accès), a firm owned by Canal+ and Bertelsmann; Canal+ eventually bought out Bertelsmann's stake and rebranded SECA as Canal+ Technologies. This firm was sold by 2003 to Thomson SA. The MediaGuard system's use in Britain (by the now defunct OnDigital/ITV Digital) led to hackers in the employ of Rupert Murdoch's rival encryption company NDS breaking into the MediaGuard system, resulting in new cards being issued to Canal+ subscribers in 2002 and Canal+ starting legal action against Murdoch. The Nagravision system continued in use until 30 November 2011, when all analog television broadcasting in France ceased.[13][14][15]


Sister channels

Les Chaînes Canal+ is the brand name used for all the Canal+-branded channels in France.[16] Prior to 2008 it was called Canal+ Le Bouquet.[citation needed]

channel launched Notes Availability Format Broadcast hours
DTT Satellite IPTV Cable
Canal+ 4 November 1984 Yes Yes Yes Yes 16:9 HDTV 24 hours
Canal+ Cinéma(s) 27 April 1996 A dedicated movie channel, previously known as Canal+ Jaune Yes Yes Yes Yes 1080i HDTV 24 hours
Canal+ Sport 31 August 1998 A sports channel, previously known as Canal+ Vert Yes Yes Yes Yes 1080i HDTV 24 hours
Canal+ Séries 21 September 2013 A channel broadcasting series No Yes Yes Yes 1080i HDTV 24 hours
Canal+ Kids 9 September 2021 A channel broadcasting children programmes, series and cartoons, previously known as Canal+ Family No Yes Yes Yes 1080i HDTV 24 hours
Canal+ Docs 9 September 2021 A channel broadcasting documentary No Yes Yes Yes 1080i HDTV 24 hours
Canal+ Grand Écran ("big screen") 8 February 2022 A dedicated movie channel, films produced 1980–2000 No Yes Yes Yes 1080i HDTV 24 hours
Canal+ Sport 360 31 August 2022 A sports channel, previously known as Canal+ Bleu and Canal+ Décalé No Yes Yes Yes 1080i HDTV 24 hours
Canal+ Foot 31 August 2022 A sports channel, focused programming match football No Yes Yes Yes 1080i HDTV 24 hours
Canal+ Box Office 1 September 2023 A dedicated movie channel, is pay-per-view (PPV) No Yes Yes Yes 1080i HDTV 24 hours

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Canal Plus". 18 May 2018. Retrieved 16 May 2024.
  2. ^ a b Milmo, Dan (16 April 2002). "Lescure ousted at Canal Plus". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 May 2024.
  3. ^ Du carré blanc au film porno de Canal+, une brève histoire du sexe à la télévision Archived 1 June 2022 at the Wayback Machine, Le Parisien, 30 October 2021
  4. ^ a b Keslassy, Elsa (30 June 2015). "Alain De Greef, One of Canal Plus' Founding Fathers, Dies at 68". Variety. Retrieved 16 May 2024.
  5. ^ a b Goodfellow, Melanie (30 June 2015). "Canal Plus co-founder Alain de Greef dies". Screen Daily. Retrieved 16 May 2024.
  6. ^ "L'histoire du Groupe Canal+ de 1983 à nos jours". Archived from the original on 5 February 2012. Retrieved 3 April 2009.
  7. ^ Williams, Michael (13 January 2000). "Lagardere group to take stake in Canal satellite". Variety. Retrieved 16 May 2024.
  8. ^ "LAGARDERE and CANAL+ Announce Alliance in Digital TV". Lagardère - - Groupe. 12 January 2000. Retrieved 16 May 2024.
  9. ^ Archives, L.A. Times (9 December 2000). "Canal Plus OKs Acquisition by Vivendi". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 17 May 2024.
  10. ^ "Canal plans analogue switch-off". 3 April 2009. Archived from the original on 31 July 2023. Retrieved 3 April 2009.
  11. ^ "Ligue 1 nets nearly $1 billion for TV rights". 5 April 2014. Archived from the original on 23 June 2017. Retrieved 17 August 2018.
  12. ^ D, Pierre; umont (10 April 2019). "Faire fonctionner un décodeur Canal+ des années 80". Le journal du lapin (in French). Archived from the original on 26 March 2020. Retrieved 26 March 2020.
  13. ^ "30 ans de décodeurs Canal+". BFM BUSINESS (in French). Archived from the original on 26 March 2020. Retrieved 26 March 2020.
  14. ^ Cassy, John; Murphy, Paul (13 March 2002). "How smart card secrets were cracked". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Archived from the original on 7 April 2021. Retrieved 26 March 2020.
  15. ^ "Murdoch firm accused of hacking". BBC News. 27 March 2012. Archived from the original on 12 March 2014. Retrieved 26 March 2020.
  16. ^ "CANAL+ la chaine TV". myCANAL (in French). 24 February 2024. Archived from the original on 16 May 2024. Retrieved 16 May 2024.

External links

This page was last edited on 19 June 2024, at 14:03
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