At first glance, the studios of France 24, the new news network designed to be Chirac’s flagship for France, and you’d think that the French worldview wasn’t that different from say, the Anglo-Saxon world. Lots of open spaces, glass walls, electronic equipment and smiling faces. The news agenda for both the English and French services seems pretty similar too: the only difference being the French presenters get the added benefit of an autocue. [Why this service is denied English speaking presenters was not made clear}.
A week before the channel went live, France 24 bosses were doing a hard-sell on the benefits of the ‘fresh perspective’ brought by a non Anglo-Saxon news service.
‘France is a rebel country,’ Chief Executive Alain de Pouzilhac a group of Anglo-American journalists in a freshly painted conference room at their studios in the dull suburb of their Issy-les-Molineaux. France 24 provides ‘the possibility to see some contradictory opinions.’
He claimed France 24 will add diversity and cultural focus to the global airwaves through regular daily debates and talk shows. Grand ambitions but sadly France 24’s financial backer – who else but Chirac – has proved unwilling to put his money where his mouth is. The channel is hoping to compete with the big boys on an annual budget of 85 million euro, a fraction of CNN’s $550 million budget. Let’s hope this does not mean lots of cheap and lengthy discussions about multi-culturalism. Oh so worthy, but incredibly dull to watch.