Opinion: France 24 - a strange breed
Friday, December 8th, 2006
I watched some of the output of the English version of the new French news channel France 24 yesterday evening, and I have to say I was underwhelmed. First of all, they have decided to call the channel by its French name “France vingt-quatre” rather than “France twenty-four” as you would expect. Technically, they have some bugs to sort out. A recorded broadcast from the floor of the stock exchange had a very low audio level, added to which the reporter was speaking against a background din that made it hard to hear what she was saying.

In a ten-minute news bulletin, I didn’t see anything that wasn’t already being covered by the other international news channels. I was puzzled by the selection of filler items - one was entirely in Arabic, with no subtitles or explanation of what it was. A mini-documentary on French chocolate-making was scripted in a way reminiscent of Radio Moscow at the height of the Cold War, praising the country’s chocolate makers. It sounded too much like propaganda. Better scripting would have made it much more effective.

Even the screen layout seems odd. Most channels place their logo at the top of the screen. France 24 has a permanent bar carrying news headlines near the bottom of the screen, and its bright blue logo is above the bar on the right hand side, which fills too much of the screen and distracts from the picture content.

I think the channel is trying too hard to please President Chirac, and is too French. If it’s going to be jingoistic it won’t attract a large international audience. Let’s see how the channel develops in the coming weeks.

Disclaimer: These are my personal views, not necessarily those of Radio Netherlands Worldwide.

France 24