New Gallic news channel to rival Anglo-Saxon values
France 24, a French international TV news channel, launches officially tomorrow. It was apparently conceived by President Jacques Chirac at the time of the US-led invasion of Iraq, because he felt that France’s opposition to the war was not accurately represented in the broadcast media – and particularly CNN and the BBC. Given the spate of renaming French fries “Freedom fries” that occurred, I’d say he had a point, although public opinion may well have swung back in the opposite direction now.
France 24 will be on the Internet in French, English and Arabic, and cable/satellite channels in French and English launch this week – with an Arabic language version coming mid next year. State-funded to the tune of 86m euros, it aims to provide an alternative to the “self-centered” Anglo-Saxon point of view of CNN and BBC World, as well as to Al-Jazeera. Chirac hopes that the channel will place France “at the forefront of the global battle of images.” It will initially be broadcast in Europe, Middle East and Africa, as well as New York and Washington DC.
It’s certainly an interesting experiment, but I wonder whether there’s room for one more 24-hour news channel, and whether – certainly in the US – there will be much appetite for the French point of view.
If with this move, France hopes to change its perception in the rest of the world, it will have a long way to go if you listen to Simon Anholt, author of the Nation Brand Index research. Anholt reckons that it takes a country 30 years to change its brand image.
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