The wholesale value of the French market in the first nine months decreased to €443.9 million ($651 million), down 20.5% from the corresponding period last year, according to new figures issued by labels trade body SNEP. It follows a 14% year-on-year shortfall registered for the full-year 2006.

Classical repertoire now represents 9.4% of France's recorded music market, despite falling 14% in value from the corresponding period in 2006. The share of local repertoire in non-classical music was 64.3%, down from 64.8% at the same time in 2006.

Digital sales for the period were up 8.1% to €34.6 million ($50.7 million), and now represent 8% of the market. Internet downloads were up 23.6% to €14.4 million ($21.1 million) and mobile downloads rose 106.9% to €4.3 million ($6.3 million). Ringtones sales were down 23.4% to €8.9 million ($13 million).

At retail, the recorded music market dropped 10.6% to €761.7 million ($1.11 billion). The gap between the retail and wholesale decline is due to retailers reducing their stocks, SNEP says.

In a press conference held in Paris this morning, SNEP director general Hervé Rony expressed hopes for smoother Q4 results, thanks to upcoming releases by a number of megastars such as Florent Pagny, Johnny Hallyday, Céline Dion or Michel Polnareff.

Rony also said he was waiting to see concrete results from a government mission, set up in May by president Nicolas Sarkozy and led by Fnac CEO Denis Olivennes. Rony renewed his confidence in the mission, which intends to boost the digital market for creative industries and is expected to resume in the coming weeks.

But he expressed some worries over a lack of action. "Time for half measures is over," he said. "There won't be any regulation of the Internet without the full involvement of the public authorities."