Minister insists French CNN rival will be launched

23rd September 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Sept 22 (AFP) - An ambitious 24-hour French news channel designed to rival CNN and BBC World "will see the light of day," French Communications Minister Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres said Wednesday, though he declined to give a date for the expensive project.

PARIS, Sept 22 (AFP) - An ambitious 24-hour French news channel designed to rival CNN and BBC World "will see the light of day," French Communications Minister Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres said Wednesday, though he declined to give a date for the expensive project.  

The French International News Network, or CFII as it is known in France, is a "strategic necessity," he told a news conference on the government's 2005 budget.  

The fact that funding for the channel did not figure in next year's budget did not mean that plans were "paralysed", he said, noting that it might be the subject of a future addition yet to be passed.  

"We and our colleagues at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are working very actively to get this project off the ground," he said.  

On Tuesday, the head of the state television broadcaster France Televisions, Marc Tessier, said that the details of the CFII had been unofficially submitted to the European Commission for study.  

The EU executive body would give its response within two months of receiving a finalised, official version, he said.  

The CFII, or "CNN a la francaise" as it is being called in some circles, has long been a dream of French officials keen to have their country's voice heard alongside the US and British viewpoints often presented on the two veteran global networks.  

President Jacques Chirac pushed especially hard last year for the new channel to be launched after feeling France's position had been underplayed or misrepresented before and after the US and British invasion of Iraq, which he opposed.  

The plans call for France Televisions and the leading commercial network TF1 to join forces in a 50-50 venture that will rely on contributions from Radio France Internationale and Agence France-Presse, with the French foreign ministry likely in charge of its operation.  

Foreign Minister Michel Barnier last month affirmed the channel would go ahead, just weeks after declaring July 8 that "there is no money" to start the network.   Budgeted at EUR 70 million (USD 84 million) a year, the CFII will employ 240 staff, half of whom will be journalists, and will broadcast in French, Arabic and English.  

It aims to beam its programmes to northern Europe, Africa, India, the Middle East, Central Asia and to the US city of New York, home to the United Nations, but, as a concession to TF1 which runs a domestic cable channel, it will not be seen in France.  

By way of comparison, CNN's international channels are estimated to spend around EUR 1 billion a year.

© AFP

 

Subject: French News

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