The September launch of France 24’s Spanish-language news channel in Bogota offers Latin American audiences a different perspective, while supporting a fresh start for Colombia as its long-running armed conflict comes to an end and the country begins opening up to the rest of the world.
Álvaro Sierra, director of France 24 – Spanish, says the network offers agile responses to important global stories.
“Our mission is to bring viewers in Latin America, Latinos in the United States and Spanish speakers around the world this type of news with a more collected, contextualized and less sensational approach,” Sierra says. “At the same time, we open a window to the world for Latin America with news that is not usually part of the agenda for most media outlets.”
France 24 - Spanish marks the first time the station has expanded beyond its Paris base. It’s operated by the France Médias Monde group, which also produces channels in French, Arabic and English, as well as radio stations RFI and Monte Carlo Doualiya—the latter of which is in Arabic.
The Spanish offering includes 15-minute news bulletins in addition to news reports where debates, analyses and interviews take center stage.
Programming is broadcast in two slots—6 a.m. to 8 a.m., and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.—with the rest of the 24/7 broadcasts in French and English.
Colombia: A Strategic Location
Once the idea for the Spanish-language channel was born, executives explored different locations in Latin America to provide in-depth coverage of the region.
“Several places were researched—along with their accessibility, language, level of freedom of the press and the sustainability of their democracy. Finally, the place chosen for the network was Bogota,” says Sierra. Geography played a key role in the decision as well, “as the town is equidistant from Mexico City and Buenos Aires.”
France 24 – Spanish also launched at a time when Colombia, which until recently had been overshadowed by conflict, is beginning to open up to topics and issues that impact Latin America and the rest of the world.
“Colombia is entering a very interesting process of shaking off its troubled past and becoming a center of attention in many ways, not only from the point of view of investment but also in other areas, such as tourism,” Sierra says. “Setting up a news network in Bogota sends a signal of confidence in the future evolution of the country.”
Independent, In-Depth Reporting
The marketing strategy behind the launch is based on portraying the channel as a reliable news provider for the Latin American public.
“Our strength is in the systematic search for conducting a different type of journalism by responding quickly to current news with context, and a very strict policy of balance and independence,” says Sierra.
The executive also points out the benefits of not having to respond to any advertisers or political agendas.
“France 24’s editorial philosophy is inspired by the typical French values of democracy, respect for understanding and a complete separation between information and opinion,” says Sierra.
This is nurtured by the French tagline liberté, égalité, actualité (liberty, equality, news), inspired by the phrase born during the French Revolution—liberty, equality and fraternity—that later gained strength during the French Second Republic.
A World of Understanding
The growth of France 24 - Spanish is based on distributing the channel on a combination of cable operators with an emphasis on digital. The channel debuted with an integrated editorial department for television and digital broadcast, which also works in coordination with the rest of the networks in the group.
France 24’s Paris-based network includes 160 correspondents from around the world, who are joined by an additional 50 correspondents from the Spanish channel. The multiple productions can be adapted to each channel serving the channel’s dual mission of helping Latin America to identify with the world, and vice versa.
Several of the promotional pieces say just that, as voiceovers define France 24 as a channel that provides a different perspective, in Spanish, with selected topics to help viewers “understand the world, imagine the world.”
“Imagining and understanding the world also means that the world imagines and understands Latin America, and that Latin America understands other parts of the world to which it does not have much access with current television offerings,” says Sierra. “We want to bring to the international public a Latin American perspective: the deep processes underway in the region, a thorough analysis of all kinds of developments and macro and national political issues within the region, as well as broader topics, such as corruption or inequality.”
Version español: France 24 lanza su estación de noticias en español en Colombia