AFP launches international television service
Tuesday, February 13th, 2007

Agence France-Presse, the global news agency, today launched an international television news service, AFPTV, aimed at broadcasters, Internet providers and cell phone operators. AFPTV is initially offering some 150 video news reports a month in English and French from 12 production centres around the world. The reports can be downloaded via satellite or at a dedicated Internet platform VideoForum 2.

“Multimedia clients are central to the agency’s development, and what multimedia clients are saying is that they want more and more video products,” said AFP chief executive Pierre Louette at a news conference. Louette said AFP would not aim to provide rival blanket coverage of every news story, like its two main competitors, Reuters and Associated Press. ”We intend to be complementary rather than exhaustive. We believe clients want stories that are selective and angled. We want to enter the market with a strong sense of being distinct,” he said.

Some 40 video reporters are working for AFPTV around the world, with plans to recruit more. Videos will be produced in Arabic and Spanish from later this year, with a German option under consideration. Videos are up to two minutes in duration and voiced by AFP journalists - with extra “B-roll” footage to allow clients to make in-house versions.

Of the daily output, 70 percent is estimated to be news-related, 20 percent concentrates on lifestyle features, and 10 percent on investigative reporting. Louette said the service - which has been operating on a pilot basis for several months - already has 40 to 50 clients, mainly television networks and Internet portals.

“This is AFP’s most ambitious project since the launch of our international photo service two decades ago,” said Denis Hiault, AFP’s Global News Director. ”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,” he said.

AFPTV’s initial operating budget is some three million euros ($4 million) - just over one percent of the agency’s overall budget - but Louette said the aim was to build gradually. AFP also hopes to form partnerships with outside partners to develop its video production, on the pattern of a recent tie-in with the fashion video company Paris Modes.

(Source: AFP)