CNN the French way

Enough CNN, BBC and Al Jazeera, France is plotting its very own gallic tinged news channel.

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By  John Irish Published  June 9, 2004

Competition in the satellite news channel business is set to get a lot more intense after French authorities confirmed a new Gallic alternative would launch in mid-2005. The plan, which is backed wholeheartedly by French president Jacques Chirac, has run into trouble on several occasions since the idea was proposed over two years ago. However, it seems the war in Iraq and the ascendancy of British, American and Arab news networks has convinced French ministers and television industry gurus to forge ahead with a Francophile news offering. “A new channel is “a necessity and an opportunity,” explained former French minister for culture and communication. “It is a necessity because France must enlarge its international audience. It is an opportunity because it will allow us to rationalise and organise the French world broadcasting systems,’ he added. The government has opted for a 50-50 private-public partnership with the chiefs of state owned France Télévision and privately owned TF1 running the show between them. According to a feasibility report the first year of operations will need 70 million euros (US $85 million). The cost of running the channel would then be around 7.5 euro million ($9 million) each year. The project’s cost falls into a similar bracket to BBC World’s initial $85 million budget. From the revenue side, officials are forecasting advertising returns of around 1-2 million euros each year ($1.2-2.4 million). However, the French advertising industry is wary of the new organisation. “One can imagine that advertising on it would be done more for political reasons than strategic ones,” said Fréderic Degouy, head of TV, Mediacom, Paris. Nevertheless according to Paul-Marie de la Gorce, French journalist and writer, the channel is not being created to make money or satisfy the advertising industry. “The real purpose is to present a way of serving international current affairs from a French point of view,” he says.

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