AFP to launch international news service

MUMBAI: French news wire Agence France-Presse (AFP) is broadening its focus with the launch of AFPTV International.

AFPTV will offer video reports every day and plans to produce 150 reports a month. Initially these reports will be in English and French. Reports in Arabic, Spanish and other languages will follow.

AFP company chairman Pierre Louette said, "On the basis of a service set up in 2001 called AFP Video, we are moving on to AFPTV, a new international service made up of around 40 video journalists and several production units worldwide."

"We need to develop video production to enable the growth of our multimedia products. While video is at the heart of the agency's multimedia plans, multimedia development is central to the agency's development prospects," he added.

AFP's television production was started in 1996 under a partnership accord with US financial news agency Bloomberg. AFP global news director Denis Hiault said, "We opted for a novel approach unlike that practised by the competition a decade ago.

"We process news with our own specific vision, our multicultural approach, in order to best analyze it. Rather than offering just the umpteenth version of a Baghdad booby-trapped car attack or the latest riot, our film comes with keys to understanding the news, with analysis that gives meaning to the information," he said.

AFPTV service grew after the setup in 2005 of two test production centres, one in Baghdad, the other in Warsaw covering Eastern Europe.

"The choice of the location of our production units was based on our decision to provide something extra in comparison with the competition, as well as offering coverage of geographical areas they had shunned," Hiault said.

AFP has set up permanent video positions in New Delhi, Istanbul, Bangkok, Cairo, Nairobi and Rio de Janeiro.

"This is AFP's most ambitious project since the launch of our international photo service two decades ago. It's a new opportunity to demonstrate our editorial know-how and bolster our place in the field as a primary source of information. Our video footage is based on the same criteria of excellence as our text dispatches," said Hiault.

AFP this year plans to further increase its capacity to collect images. "By the summer of 2007 the agency will have internet-quality images thanks to telephone-camera equipment being distributed to journalists on a voluntary basis," said Louette.

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