Welcome France 24

France 24, a 24 hour news channel in French, English and Arabic, broadcast over terrestrial digital TV, satelite and the net, has been launched. It has arrived at the behest of Jacques Chirac to provide a French view on the world - He was rather annoyed at the predominance of the Anglo-Saxon news coverage of the Gulf War, for instance. For me, the arrival of this station is really good news (excuse the pun) as I'm trying to learn French and have been limited to output such as Radio France International which, although very good, is a lot less fun than 24 hour rolling news and comment for francophones and francophiles. Also, to some extent I share M. Chirac's reservations about global news media - though I do have some minor observations about France 24:

The logo. I think it very amusing that this is so close to being the negative of the logo of that great American firm, AT&T (See below, all trademarks are copyright of...you know the rest):



France 24 Logo

AT & T Logo

The Presenters. One can detect a certain ageism/sexism in the choice of staff. There seem to be two sorts:



Britney Spears

Prototype France 24 Presenter

I hope that I am mistaken and the female staff will be allowed to age gracefully facing the camera with their surviving male colleagues.

The news loop. Its understandable - its only their second day and they rely largely on feeds from other agencies and networks but even with my short attention span I realised I was watching the same content twice. A slightly longer loop would be nice.

The big issue: The Technology. If you have Microsoft Windows Internet Explorer 7 and Windows Media Player 9 then you are in for a real treat. If you use any other browser (I tried Mozilla and a newer Firefox) you are in for an incoherent mess that looks like this.

And as for my Solaris and Linux platforms? One life is too short to blend this site into the viewing experience of those operating systems. I hope that there are other people out there that have given or will give a fragment of theirs to this cause and could offer me guidance. For those who only want the video feed via Realplayer,

mms://live.france24.com/france24_fr.wsx

is the key, which is not immediately obvious, buried in the HTML source.

Optimisation for only one platform at this stage in the life of the channel seems an obvious decision: they are only 2 days old. On the other hand, there is no love loss between the French government and the evil empire of American IT corporations - France is developing a "Google rival" and has also taken a swipe at Apple. Microsoft has been mired in European Union anti-trust litigation for years.

Perhaps this emnity will bear fruit for those viewers amongst us who do not drink entirely from the fountain at Redmond. In the meantime I am profoundly grateful to the French taxpayers and the staff of France 24 for this Christmas gift.

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