Right now, if you’re looking for news services with a truly global reach, there are only two. The BBC and CNN.
Next year, there will be at least one more, and if you speak French, you’ll have one in that language as well.
The French channel will emanate from France. It will be called CFII, (Canal Francaise Information International?) the French International News Network in English…
This project has been in the works for a long time.
By the end of 2004, the 24-hour news and information station, 100% financed by the state, will hit the airwaves not only in French but also possibly in English and Arabic.
Well, it’s the end of 2005 now.. but apparently the project is still on, and slated to start up next year
Their future rival, the BBC, reports:
The new network will be owned by commercial network TF1 and the state-funded company France Televisions.
The government has given initial funding of 30m euros (Â£23m) for this year, and allocated another 65m euros (Â£44m) for next year.
Employing around 240 staff, it will produce programmes initially beamed to Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
CFII will broadcast news around the clock in French, with a four-hour slot of programmes in English. There are plans to add programmes in Arabic and Spanish in due course.
The second source for International news will be from a name you already know well.
Aljazeera will launch a full, English-language, international network next year.
The Observer has an excellent article on what that means… and why AJ is wooing big name journalists and talking heads from the other big guns.
Among those attracted to the promise of foreign bureaus and nearly limitless resources is Dave Marash, a former Nightline correspondent and onetime anchor of WCBS New York, who is negotiating a job in the Washington bureau, according to sources close to the journalist. David Frost, the veteran BBC journalist and the first to interview Richard Nixon after Watergate, signed on earlier this summer. Former Nightline anchor Ted Koppel had a meeting with a representative from Al Jazeera International in Washington this fall, according sources close to Mr. Koppel. But nothing came of it.
But really, who would watch all this news? And what would make it any different, well, in AlJazeeras’ case:
Rebecca Lipkin, a former London-based Nightline producer, joined Al Jazeera International earlier this year as the executive producer for programming out of the London bureau.
… â€œIf you told somebody at one of the networks that you want to put 20 minutes on the air about Central Asia, they would say youâ€™re crazy,â€ she said. â€œI think this network would say, â€˜Well, letâ€™s think about this.â€™â€
That means… at least to me, instead of hearing the same headlines, and talking points, from the same context of the networks host country over and over… we might actually hear about the World from its’ own perspective. And that is valuable. That is what an International news channel should be.
At least AJ is honest about who their targeting:
â€œWeâ€™re trying to reach educated decision-makers and young people,â€ said Mr. Parsons. â€œWe would love to have an audience that regards us as their first source of balanced and impartial news. Beyond that, weâ€™ll always be an interesting alternative source.â€
I, for one, would love to see both these channels. If anything more voices telling slightly different stories is the best you can hope for to be able to make your own informed decisions. That said, I’m most excited to see AlJazeera. The perspective of the Middle East and Africa are totally un-represented in Western Media, and I would hope that this channel would shine a light into the day-to-day happenings of these regions.
AlJazeera may be viewed as “the enemy” by some… it may even be the target of bombings… but one thing is for sure, in the Arab world, it is a free and outspoken voice for reform. The Saudi government boycotts it, other repressive governments in the region try to ignore it. But they can’t, not when 50 million people watch it every day. I would like to hear that voice here as well.