France is to launch a French-language news channel next year in a long-awaited attempt to challenge the dominance of the US view of world current affairs, the prime minister, Jean-Pierre Raffarin, said Thursday.
The government will provide 30 million euros in start-up funding for the channel, which will "allow international broadcasting that will express the diversity to which our nation is attached," Raffarin said.
The CII (International Information Channel), better known in France as "CNN a la Francaise," is a pet project of Jacques Chirac's and was first announced shortly after his 2002 re-election.
It was initially greeted with widespread scepticism, seen as yet another Canute-like attempt to preserve French language and culture in the face of the inexorable onward march of English.
La langue de Moliere benefits from a battery of laws to protect it at home, but in an age of global communications, it has lost out to English abroad and is now the 11th most widely spoken language in the world. But after France's outspoken opposition to the US-led invasion of Iraq last year, the channel is seen as a valuable tool in promoting France's language and its view of global affairs.