French cultural retailer trade body SDLC (formerly known as SDSD) has called for a governmental plan to back CD and video retail, which it claims has been "forgotten" in national leaders' plans to back the music industry.

SDLC, which represents entertainment retailers such as Fnac and Virgin Stores, unveiled a consumer study on music and video usage Jan. 23 in which the importance of "specialized" retail was highlighted. The study was conducted in partnership with research firm GfK, which surveyed 607 people over 15-years of age.

While the physical music market decreased 17.1% in value at retail last year, the report notes specialized retailers resisted better, registering a 14% drop in music.

The study claimed music consumers relied on specialists and on right holders themselves to sell digital content, above media operators, Telco's and device manufacturers.

Speaking both on physical and digital retail, Laurent Fiscal, marketing director of Virgin Stores France and president of SDLC, outlined the role of specialized outlets in giving customers access to a wide music catalog.

He was concerned that the series of measures recently announced by the French government to back the recording industry had failed to account for specialists. "If there is nowhere to sell the products, where will people buy them? Do we want iTunes to be the only place?" Fiscal commented at a press conference in Paris.

SDLC director general Philippe Person said the study was a way to alert the administrative powers on music and video retailers' urgent need for support. He said he was expecting the introduction of a financial system to encourage retailers to maintain a broad offer and a lower VAT on music and video products.

In terms of digital value, the study shows that consumers are ready to pay €0.92 ($1.34) on average for a track, but only €4.90 ($7.14) for an album. For all-you-can-eat services, they would pay €8 ($11.65) per month for download services and €4.50 ($6.56) for streaming services. Ringtones value is perceived at only €0.37 ($0.53). About 40% of people who download music declared they had never paid for a digital track.

According to the study, 48% of surveyed people declared they had never bought a song after having downloaded it illegally, and 32% said they never attended a concert after having illegally downloaded the artist's songs.