France's Canal+ launches 24-hours news

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PARIS--French pay-TV station Canal+ is planning to launch the country's second 24-hour news network. Beginning Nov. 4, "i-television" will present a four-minute news flash every 15 minutes as well as specialized programming and news features produced by a national team of 66 journalists and production assistants.

Each of i-television's two-person news teams will work from a roving news van capable of transmitting live broadcasts nationwide.

Canal+, owned by communications and utility giant Vivendi, has budgeted $25 million for its all-news chain. The channel will initially broadcast via the CanalSatellite network to 1.2 million viewers nationwide and to an additional 100,000 subscribers of the NC NumeriCable service.

CNN executives are said to be watching the i-television launch as specu-lation grows that the U.S. news station is considering launching a French-language CNN that could work in conjunction with i-television.

An i-television spokeswoman says negotiations are underway to see the channel broadcast via a number of other cable TV systems, including the top-selling TPS satellite system and the Lyonnaise Cable-France Telecom network, both of which now broadcast LCI, a leading all-news chain beamed into three million households nationwide.

Ad sales have been brisk in the run-up to the Nov. 4 launch, according to officials in the Canal+ publicity division coordinating i-television's initial advertising, but executives are unwilling to predict estimated advertising revenues for the first year's operations.

More than 100 advertisers, including top marketers such as Apple Computer, Coca-Cola Co. and Ford France have taken advantage of promotionaladvertising offers for the November-December period, including a two-for-one deal, that has pushed monthly revenues above $500,000.

The new network is offering advertisers three distinct tariff levels and a host of specialized offers, with the price of a 30-second spot on i-television during the November-December period ranging from $125to $1,000. The channel plans a minimum of eight one-minute advertising windows per hour.

Canal+ has waged an effective media campaign around the i-television launch, with wide-ranging coverage in the daily and weekly national and regional press creating strong brand recognition.

Copyright November 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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