Television

French rival to BBC, CNN gets EC clearance

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MUMBAI: The European Commission gave its go-ahead on Tuesday to plans for a French international television news network to rival the BBC and CNN.

The French International News Channel (CFII) is a joint operation between state broadcaster France Television and the the private channel TF1, with the government providing 30 million euros ($48.21 million) to get it started.

The EC, according to agency reports, has stated that although the project involved state aid, the possibility of the channel being authorised as a project financing a service of general economic interest cannot be ruled out.

The commission also concluded that the project offered sufficient guarantees against the risk of distortion of competition, for example by preventing unjustified transfers of public funds to France Television and TF1, who will be shareholders in the future channel.

French President Jacques Chirac championed the idea of the new network during the diplomatic spat with the United States in the run-up to the Iraq war.

He was said to be unhappy with the way French policies were presented on international stations such as Britain's BBC World and the US-based CNN.

The programmes will mostly be in French, although English and other languages would also be used, and, though they would be beamed to several countries, they will not be seen in France itself - limiting the attraction for French advertisers.

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