"We are talking about French influence in the world," Mr. de Pouzilhac says. "France 24 will rival CNN, BBC World, Fox News and Al Jazeera."
Although Mr. de Pouzilhac says he firmly believes the world's opinion leaders and business community are seeking an alternative point of view and source of information, he faces a tough challenge. France 24 is owned jointly by state-owned broadcaster France Television and commercial TV group TV1, and has just a $100 million budget for its first year. Only international ads will be sold, and little ad revenue is expected, between $1.2 million and $3.6 million in the first year.
And since not everyone speaks French, France 24 will have a second channel that will broadcast 75% in English. The goal is to add Arabic in 2007 and Spanish a year or two later.
France 24 is scheduled to start telecasting early next month to satellite, cable and broadband networks in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and will have limited distribution on the East Coast of the U.S. Projected reach: 200 million-plus viewers, 90% of whom are outside France.
"Our mission is to cover international news with a French perspective and to convey all around the world French views and values [including] diversity and the French 'art de vivre,' " Mr. de Pouzilhac says.
France 24's slogan will be "Everything about what you're not supposed to know," he says.
The new job is a big change for Mr. de Pouzilhac, 61, who spent almost 30 years at Havas after joining its French agency, Havas Conseil, as chief operating officer in 1976.
"I have the same enthusiasm and ambition," he says. "I have never been so happy in my life. Working in media with 170 bilingual young people from 27 countries with an average age of 31 who cover broad, passionate subjects is a fantastic experience."
* Making comeback after Havas exit
* "CNN a la francaise" launches next month via satellite, cable, broadband