Ananya Saha
Nov 13, 2013

‘We are more focussed on airing content in India and from India than generating revenues’

Marc Saikali, director, France 24, on the international news channel’s India launch

‘We are more focussed on airing content in India and from India than generating revenues’

After obtaining a downlink license in January 2011, international news channel France 24 has finally launched in India (in English). The channel beams across regions in Canada, USA, Africa, Europe, Central and South America, and Asia. Currently available through cable networks in India, the free-to-air channel has launched on DD Direct+ and Dish TV to reach 31 million additional households in India, according to Marc Saikali, director, France 24. He attributed the delay to time taken in signing distribution alliances.

The channel, which currently has a bureau of 15 journalists in India, is not too bullish on generating sales revenues from the country. Saikali told Campaign India, “Right now, we want people to know about our channel. We are more focussed on airing content in India and from India than generating revenues from the market.”

The young channel (born December 2006), is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the public-funded holding company France Médias Monde.

The intent is to present news from the French and European perspective, but it would have to compete with established international English news channels such as BBC and CNN. Saikali noted that France 24’s presentation and content would make it stand out. To attract Indian audiences, the channel will air India-specific special programmes. Francoise Champey-Huston, head of English channels, France 24, informed, “We will be expanding our Indian programming, bureaus, and manpower in times to come.”

On the investment plan for France 24 in India, Saikali said, “We are investing in two stages. The first stage involved paying Rs 15 million to be distributed in India. The second is advertising. The print advertising will begin next week to let people know about France 24.”

While not sharing the budget earmarked for advertising, he said that France 24 would not be engaging other media vehicles, but will focus on special events, like a campaign around the Cannes Film Festival for showcasing Indian films. Once established, the channel will be advertising and marketing through local partnerships, he added.

The channel is also exploring content alliances and partnerships with news channels such as Doordarshan.

On launching in other Asian markets, Saikali said, “We are trying for China. But it seems tough.”

Campaign India

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