France 24 to offer alternative outlook

The head of the world's first French international 24-hour news channel has told Press Gazette it will challenge the "Anglo-Saxon view" when it launches in the first week of December.

FRANCE 24 will initially broadcast two channels 24/7 — one in French and the other in English — to Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and the East coast of the US.

The channel's managing director, Jean-Yves Bonsergent, said: "People are less willing to accept just one opinion. The new generation of opinion leaders who are familiar with the internet and blogs, want to have a different point of view on the subjects that they are interested in.

"You have the Anglo-Saxon view represented by CNN International and BBC World. On the other side you have the Middle Eastern perspective that is focused around Al Jazeera. What we want to be at FRANCE 24 is an alternative in order to have a different view and fresh outlook on what is international news."

An Arabic FRANCE 24 channel is planned for 2007, followed by a Spanish version within three years.

During the 2002 election campaign, president Jacques Chirac promised a "CNN à la française" and he is understood to be committed to a station that will "spread the values of France and its global vision throughout the world."

FRANCE 24 has said that its content will be influenced by three main French values — diversity, debate and culture.

The channel's annual budget, met by the French taxpayer, will be £50m, about an eighth of CNN.

Equally owned by the TF1 and France Télévisions groups, FRANCE 24 will launch its global news coverage with a dedicated staff of more than 170 bilingual broadcast journalists in Paris, as well as correspondents reporting from bureaus around the world.

The French channel will utilise existing correspondents from TF1 and France Télévisions as well as its own correspondents on long-term contracts and stringers.

FRANCE 24 already has a number of British journalists on its staff including: Natacha Butler, who has worked for Russia Today and AFP; Catherine Galloway who has experience at the BBC and Deutsche Welle TV, and Marc Owen who has worked for Granada TV and HTV.

In the UK, FRANCE 24 has been added to the start-up offer of channels on the Sky network.


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