Breaking news, the French way

MUMBAI: The French public news channel France 24 has been available on cable TV since December 2010. However, it is only now that the channel is going all out to announce its arrival to Indian audiences.

Earlier this month, France 24 inked deals with two DTH platforms, Dish TV and DD Direct+ to increase its reach to 38 million viewers from just 7 million on cable TV.

And soon, a slew of advertisements will appear in newspapers and out-of-home (OOH) media, with French major Gedeon as the creative agency of choice.

The channel, which aims to offer India a glimpse of the world essentially through French eyes, has kicked-off promotional campaigns with the tagline ‘World news made in France’ in leading newspapers and magazines, including The Times of India, Hindustan Times, India Today and Time Out. Apart from this, outdoor hoardings will be seen at the Delhi Airport and Metro junctions for three months.

Says France Monde Group CEO and chairwoman Marie-Christine Saragosse: “In terms of distribution, India represents a substantial and strategic market for us. Over the years, India has become a major player on the international scene and now it’s time for France 24 to be available to the largest possible audience across the country. That’s the reason why our long-term objective is to establish the channel as a reference and make its presence durable to Indian viewers. But to do so, we need to reach more and more TV households, increase the channel’s profile and the visibility of its programs.”

Distributed across the country by Catvision, the FTA channel has also launched India-centric programmes to air till the end of this month.

“France 24 is an international news channel, therefore our reports and coverage depend on the international agenda but one thing is sure, we’ll be increasing our coverage of all major news in India and in its region,” says Saragosse, adding that India has been quoted over 250 times on the website, either in articles or TV reports, since the beginning of the year.


Saragosse feels that Indians will know the way the French see and present news

“Our India-based journalists in the region are permanently on alert and covering every event related to the country live in our news bulletins and reports,” she says, informing that two teams have been operating from Delhi and Mumbai since the channel’s worldwide launch in 2006.

The French diaspora in India is pegged at approximately 10,000 while according to the International Organization of the Francophonie, there are around 2.6 French-speaking people in India.

So is France 24 mainly catering to this segment? “It is obviously important for us to target the French speakers and the French expatriates. Nevertheless, the biggest potential in the region remains the English-speaking market. That’s why we want to address the English speakers with our English version in India. Anyone with a connection to France is a plus, but our French perspective on news is quite universal and it is today making the difference: with 41.7 million TV viewers each week, France 24 has found its rightful place in the global news international concert. It gives a French perspective to international current events through diversity of opinions, debate, contradiction and confrontation of viewpoints,” says Saragosse.

A media planner however pointed out that the ad campaign, while showing France 24’s POV, doesn’t really connect with Indian audiences. “It will not be easy for them to garner a mass audience. At the same time, BBC is an established brand already for international news. They might also be doing the same: building the brand name in the country,” he says.

Another planner though felt the deals would add value to the channel by making it more visible to viewers in the country.

Right now, France 24 isn’t earning any revenue from advertising as it is a foreign channel and an FTA. It has also burnt a hole in its pocket in carriage and advertising fees. “Discussing everything; that’s undoubtedly part of the French way of life. And I am pretty sure you’ll like it,” Saragosse signs off.

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