The paper presents the macro analysis of France 24 as a French-based international media channel that provides media services across the globe.
France 24 is a wholly government-owned holding media company that, although launched in 2006, was merged with Radio France International (RFI) in 2008 to ensure a broader scope of media coverage at hand. Hence, apart from television space, France 24 has strong connection with this organization as constant partners within a united media group. Along with an Arabic radio station Monte Carlo Doualiya, the two above channels compose France Médias Monde, a central French media broadcasting agency. Simultaneously, the media company France 24 comprises of three separate 24/7 channels that broadcast news and other programs in French, English and Arabic languages. While France 24 seems a self-regulated agency, the political stance of the French state is reflected not only in its ownership of the channel. Additionally, “funding for the network comes from the budget of the French state, which insists on being distinguishable from “public television”. The yearly funding for sourcing the operations of only Arabic branch constitutes approximately €300,000 million.
In light of sufficient governmental expenditures on enhancement of France 24’s performance, the channel has developed a rather diversified distribution infrastructure. Following the data from its official website, the channel is available throughout 177 countries accounting for approximately 250 million households, along with satellite-broadcasted global coverage involving even more viewers. In addition, well-developed technological advancement of the channel enabled the management to develop applications for ensuring the channel’s presence online through a variety of technological devices.
Conduct: manner of operation at the organizational level
The manner includes methods of selecting and producing content, editorial decision making, market policy, relations established with other agencies, procedures for accountability.
Being conceptualized as a news agency that aims to show “a French approach to world affairs”, the central conduct policies of France 24 indeed correspond to this objective. Based on the media reviews, in general France 24 is greatly associated with “the French tradition of independent public or private media”. Among the primary partners of the analyzed channels, RFI, Monte Carlo Doualiya, AFP, Group TF1, and France Télévisions can be listed. Through these collaborative relations, France 24 is always up-to-date and provides its numerous audiences with fresh news each 30 minutes.
While the company has diverse staff with 35 nationalities being represented in its scope, the channel’s fixation on Paris and governmental guidance is too evident. This is due to that the whole content is proceeded in Paris headquarters and framed from this perspective. Nonetheless, diversification of the content is clear as well. The channel is not solely news-oriented, but has leisure and sports, fashion, political and localized programs among others. Editorial team seems rather objective in decision-making, especially in light of live online translations on how the editorial prepares news reporting. Among recent innovations in the Arabic channel, “five hours of essential news each evening, new programs, direct dialogue and reportage, as well as a full hour dedicated to the Maghreb”. Hence, the channel is thoroughly technologically oriented which correlates with current market trends in the industry and consumer demands.
Regardless of that France 24 promises to “provide news that is honest, relevant, responsive, different and committed to defending human dignity wherever it is denied, while respecting journalistic ethics”, there is no guarantee of doubtless objectivity of its content. For instance, a current news report in Sputnik International, a Russian state-owned global news agency, has heavily accused the channel in overly profit-seeking through advertising. Following the article, while the French-based channel is sponsored by Arab businesses, such as Qatar Airways, Emirates Airlines and Etihad, it tends to ignore true coverage of severe conflict in Yemen. Of course, the reputation of Russian media is questionable, to a great extent. However, there is scholarly evidence enabling to doubt the credibility of France 24’s content as well. In particular, Hoffmann and Hawkins have aptly noted that the fact that this channel is a “state-backed” 24/7 news agency that heavily relies on Western counterparts makes it possible to rank it among “the most visible exponents of Western journalism practice, with worldviews routinely filtered through the lenses of the great powers” or “neo-liberal imperialist interests”. Although these issues are controversial, they still undermine the quality and ethicality of France 24’s content that cannot be called unbiased.
At the same time, the content of certain materials related to France 24 allows to assume its seeking for sensationalism, as relevant for Western media, and stereotyped framing of the material. For instance, a post by Waqas has narrated the story about the Syrian Electronic Army that has hacked the social media accounts of France 24’s journalists. The observer emphasized that the hackers posted “Tweets against France 24, accusing the channel and countries like the US, Saudi Arabia, France and the UK of being allegedly biased, supporting terrorism and promoting lies against Syria”. The article evidently stereotypes the Syrian army as attackers and enemies, without even investigations been proceeded. In contrast, France 24, as well as listed countries at large, are positioned as victims. The information is subjective and it frames the public opinion in a negative way against Syrian.
Size of Organization
According to the channel’s website, France 24 operates on the grounds of 100 bureaus across the globe. The reporting of the news is based at the work of at least 400 journalists of 35 national backgrounds working in Paris alone, while the channel also ascertains that the company has several hundreds of correspondents in practically each country in the world. Therefore, the scale and size of the organization is undoubtedly large.
Advertising Revenues & Market Position
Drawing upon the industry research, France 24 experiences fierce competition in the Arabic market. With only about 7.5% of the market share, the French channel has to strive within the huge dominance of Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC) (67%), Al-Jazeera (59.5%), Al Shabiya (56.8%), Al Libiya (41%), and Al Arabia (50.2%) among others that have the way higher media consumption rates. While MBC is mostly favored for its localized entertainment content targeting females and youth, which is not the primary niche of France 24, the other Arabic channels are preferred due to their specifically local news orientation and advertising activities as the results of the survey have showed. Therefore, Arabic-language broadcasting strategy that is supported by France 24 is not enough to win the preference of Arabic population. On the contrary, following the above results, a clear emphasis on the local news and events rather than reference to global news in Arabic should be considered by the channel’s management to strive and survive the high-level rivalry.
At the same time, it should be noted that the Arabic advertisement market expenditures substantially evolve across the countries as demonstrated in Appendix A. Despite that no data were found regarding the exact France 24’s revenues in the region, €300 million yearly funding for the Arabic channel should be feasible whereas the company offers a diversified advertising portfolio in accordance with Appendix B. What is more, this approach suits well to current advertising consumer preferences showed in Appendix C. To be more precise, whereas TV advertising remains a substantial market part, its role slowly declines based on decreasing market shares, similarly to radio channels. In contrast, the role of digital marketing increases in a fast pace (see Appendix C). While France 24 occupies two important advertising market segments, i.e. TV and radio (through RFI), its instantly growing digital presence and expanded scope of advertising offers can be a good way of increasing its market presence. Hence, Western-style commercialism embodied in advertising, as proposed by the scholars, becomes an integral part of the Arabic world media, and France 24 not only contributes to this process but has sufficient chances to stay high-competitive in this respect.
In Arabic world alone, France 24 reaches 17 million viewers per week. On a similar note, due to its thorough online presence, the channel reports about “43 million pages viewed every month” and 6.5 million followers worldwide. For Arabic fans, their part comprises only 10%. This all-embracing coverage is based on the channel’s complete connectedness with the audience through a range of modes, including its official website, pages in the most popular social networks, such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, and availability of technological applications for tablet, smartphones, and other relevant devices. In this respect, the company has managed to thoroughly network its overall performance and combine an array of activities within a single unified media dimension that allows broadcasting live news, or specified programs in accordance with prescription options, as well as just instant connectedness with the channel and news sharing among other opportunities. Such an approach is a good way to win the local audience that is greatly technology-oriented, especially with regard to Generations X and Y as primary targets of France 24 due to the content, though baby boomers are also in this scope (see Appendix D).
Geographic Distribution – Demographics
In accordance with Abu-Fadil, the Arabic media market is highly competitive: although it accounts for approximately 300 million individuals, France 24 faces the rivalry with about 500 Arabic-language channels that operate in the region for long. At the same time, local providers have several distinct shortcomings and challenges in their operations that France 24 can use for its competitive edge. As showed in Appendix E, quality of the local content, access to funds and audience circulation are among the greatest concerns. Based on its advanced market positioning, the French channel has a possibility to overcome these challenges effectively. While the French state is ready to greatly invest in its channel, the latter should improve its localized presentation of the news and offering local service rather overseas vision of the local. In this way, it will be possible to retain the audience successfully.
Another issue to consider is that the target audience differs. On the one hand, this is due to economic divisions between “wealthy oil monarchies of the Gulf,” whose sponsorship or advertisement activities can be financially valuable for France 24, to poorer nations. The rise in advertising revenues is a distinct feature of the Arab world. On the other hand, differences exist between the population density, e.g. small Kuwait, Qatar, and Lebanon, in contrast to highly dense Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Moreover, there is a huge generational gap since 70% of local population is youth. Thus, the French channel should thoroughly study all these factors in order to gain its competitive edge in the region and operate more efficiently.
Figure. Advertisement rates by France 24
Figure 2. Evolution of net advertising spent in the Arab region
Figure 3. Advertising per platforms
Figure 4. Diverse audience in the Arab world
Figure 5. Challenges facing Arab media
Figure 6. Revenues of Arab media