Vivendi Universal chairman Jean-Marie Messier completed his housecleaning of
French cable-TV subsidiary Canal Plus' management with the resignation of Canal
Plus chairman and Vivendi co-chief operating officer Pierre Lescure Tuesday.
Although Vivendi characterized Lescure's departure as his own idea, it has
been widely reported that Lescure and Messier have been at loggerheads over
Canal Plus' poor performance.
According to a report in the Financial Times, the tension between the
two executives came to a head at a company retreat last month, where Messier
publicly dressed down Lescure and his second-in-command -- Canal Plus COO Denis
Olivennes -- in front of several-hundred Vivendi executives.
Olivennes resigned April 12.
Canal Plus has had heavy losses as it struggles with rising programming costs
and competition from cable and satellite companies.
Lescure will be replaced by Xavier Couture, a director at rival French
television group Television Francaise 1.
Lescure will officially step down at Vivendi's annual shareholders' meeting,
scheduled for April 24.
'I very much regret that Pierre Lescure, whose creative talent has produced a
new form of television, has decided not to continue the story of this
exceptional TV and film group
with us,' Messier said in a prepared
'The current situation at Canal Plus is difficult,' he added. 'That is why I
wanted to bring in a new management team headed by Xavier Couture, who is an
undisputed industry professional. I am sure that, to the satisfaction of current
and future subscribers, he will know how to put Canal Plus back on the road to
Couture had headed up Television Francaise 1's sports operations, which
purchased the French rights to the 2002 World Cup soccer