French international TV gets go-ahead

The European Commission gave a green light to plans for a French international television news network to rival the BBC and CNN, saying the project does not breach EU state aid rules.

    Jacques Chirac championed the idea of a new network

    The French International News Channel (CFII) is a joint operation between state broadcaster France Television and the private channel TF1, with the government providing 30 million euros ($40 million) to get it started.

    "I am delighted that the commission has been able to give the go-ahead to this project for a public-service television channel," said EU competition commissioner Neelie Kroes.


    The commission said that, although the project involved state

    aid, "it could nevertheless be authorised as a project financing a service of general economic interest."

    "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," it said.

    Chirac support

    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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