Published on Sep 20, 2023 at 4:46 p.m.Updated September 20, 2023 at 4:56 p.m.
Scrutinized by the magistrates of the Court of Auditors over the period 2011-2022, the CNC comes out with honors. But their report also points to progress to be made, both in financial management and in aid policy, the performance and readability of which are called into question.
“The CNC fulfills its mission with many positive points,” recognized the First President of the Court of Auditors, Pierre Moscovici, during a press conference on rue Cambon. Its “strategic vision” and its “capacity to adapt” over the 11 years examined, marked by the rise of streaming platforms and their integration into the financing system, the development of audiovisual production, the digitization of theaters and the covid crisis are welcomed.
But given the growing level of public support for cinema and audiovisual (the share of public financing in French films having increased from 20% to 28% between 2012 and 2019, calculates rue Cambon), the Court invites a re-examination of the aid policy. It highlights the necessary simplification of a system which included 120 different aids in 2021, compared to 88 in 2011. The CNC began a general review of aid in 2020. The Court hopes that it will succeed.
More supported films
Another hot topic: the number of films supported. Rue Cambon notes the increase in the number of French initiative films produced, from 172 in 2001 to 240 in 2019 (+40%). This goes hand in hand with an increase in selective aid. But the attendance of French films remained stable over the period.
A growing number of films produced in France do not find their audience, therefore regrets the Court. In 2019, almost a third of French initiative films attracted fewer than 20,000 spectators. A stable proportion over the period, for a limited cost (around 11 million euros annually), replies the CNC. Among these films, there are failures, of course, but also first feature films by directors who will later find success.
“We are not saying that there are too many films, nor that profitability should be the only criterion, since the CNC is there to allow cinema to escape this logic of money, agrees Pierre Moscovici, but a rationalization for greater efficiency is desirable.” In its response to the summary judgment, Matignon upholds the Court’s suggestion to correct the CNC’s support, the effectiveness of which does not appear to be convincing.
One billion euros in provisions
In 2022, the CNC paid 675 million euros in public support, granted approval for tax credits amounting to 545 million euros and collected 778 million euros in igned taxes (taxes on ticketing, on television and video services). These significant amounts reinforce the need for a review of its governance.
The Court recommends the adoption of management tools (creation of an audit committee, objectives and performance contract, mission letter, etc.). “It seems essential that the CNC reports more precisely to its supervisory authorities,” declared Pierre Moscovici. In his response to the report, the president of the CNC, Dominique Boutonnat, highlights the Center’s reporting efforts and its “constant exchanges” with the Ministry of Culture. Matignon agrees, noting, in his response to the summary proceedings, significant progress in terms of governance and control, but supports the idea of a mission letter and an audit committee.
The Court also recommends an annual review of provisions and the establishment of an audit office. Testifying to a “strong aversion to risk”, according to the Court, the provisions, which have increased activity more quickly, reach one billion euros in 2022, leaving the CNC with a cash flow deemed “disproportionate”. In its response, the CNC recalls that its provisioning method – linked to its future support commitments, in accordance with previous recommendations of the Court – was validated by three audits by different auditors.