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Last Updated: Friday, 10 December, 2004, 13:27 GMT
France to launch global TV news
By Peter Feuilherade,
Media analyst, BBC Monitoring

Satellite dishes
The French channel aims to counter English-language dominance
France is to launch a global French-language satellite TV news channel next year, Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin has announced.

State-funded France Televisions and the private station TF1 will be partners in running the new channel.

The new French International News Channel is better known in France as "CNN a la Francaise".

The station's role will be "to express the diversity to which our country is so deeply attached," Mr Raffarin said.

Other French TV channels may also be involved, he added.

The French government will provide $40m (30.3m euros; 20.9m) in start-up capital for the project, which has been held up for two years by squabbles over funding and organisation.

Preparatory work will start in 2005, with an expected launch date of early 2006.

US dominance

President Jacques Chirac floated the idea of a French global TV channel in 2002 to raise the profile of his country's diplomacy, as France led international opposition to US plans to invade Iraq.

Last year, Mr Chirac repeated that France needed its own voice in the "battle of footage" against the anglophone coverage spearheaded by US-based CNN and the BBC.

Analysts in Paris say the French government's objective is to use the new broadcaster as a platform to counter the prevailing US view of world affairs, particularly in Africa and the Middle East, where France has mostly good relations.

The dominance of English in international TV news has already been diluted to an extent by the emergence of al-Jazeera, the Qatar-based Arabic-language satellite channel watched by a global audience approaching 50 million.

Funding concerns

Although the new channel is intended primarily as a French-language medium, there are plans for its staff of 200 to produce some bulletins in English.

Plans to include content in Arabic have reportedly been put on hold, Le Monde newspaper reported.

French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier wants the French external broadcaster Radio France Internationale and the AFP news agency to have a say in its programming, according to Le Figaro newspaper.

But worries remain over how to sustain the channel's long-term funding. French MPs who support the project say that to run effectively it will cost much more than the government's estimated annual operating budget of 93m dollars (70.5m euros; 48.7m).

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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