After Iraq France to launch state-backed French CNN

LONDON - French president Jacques Chirac wants to see an international news channel launched as early next year that would report the news from the French perspective, following the rubbishing that France has faced over the Iraqi crisis.

The French government has asked state and independent broadcasters to submit proposals for a 'CNN a la Francaise' by April 22, according to a report on the Wall Street Journal.

Radio France International is understood to be planning a bid in collaboration with state broadcaster France Television, while domestic news channel LCI, owned by TF1 SA, is also expected to submit a proposal.

"A country like France, with its own view of the world, must have an international news channel," RFI president Jean-Paul Cluzel said, according to WSJ online.

The idea of an internationally broadcast French news channel is not a new one, as it is believed to have been talked about intermittently since the 1980s.

The idea has gained momentum as France led the opposition to dismantling Saddam Hussein's regime and bitterly opposed any kind of military action.

Chirac is thought to have been stung by international reaction to France and wants a platform to report from a French perspective as viewers around the world watch the war on US, UK and Arabic networks.

US and UK coverage is broadly pro-war, while Arabic networks such as Al Jazeera broadcast largely anti-US images. Al Jazeera controversially broadcast pictures of two dead British soldiers, who had been reported missing in action.

It is thought the channel would be subsidised by the French government because of the lack of demand for French-language programming and its narrow appeal to advertisers.

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