Francophones have a TV channel just for themRejoice, Francophones in Korea: TV5 has been launched on the peninsula.
For those in the non-French-speaking population, TV5 is a French-language cable channel that is watched by more than 135 million viewers in 165 countries. Along with CNN and MTV, it is considered one of the major cable networks in the world. Currently, 32,000 French language instructors around the globe teach through programs on TV5 (pronounced “teve-sank” in French).
Madeleine de Langalerie-Robin, the director of TV5’s Asia Regional Office, recently visited Korea to announce the news at a press conference organized by the French Cultural Institute in northern Seoul. Currently based in Bangkok, the hub of TV5’s vast Asia-Pacific operation, Ms. De Langalerie-Robin said she created her job in Asia nearly 10 years ago. She regularly travels to oversee the channel’s operations ― from New Zealand to China to India.
Taiwan was the first Asian country to have TV5. Since the mid-1990s, Ms. De Langalerie-Robin has visited Korea several times and rigorously pursued the launching of TV5, but she had failed to convince Koreans.
“South Korea has a very strict regulation that only 10 percent of TV channels can be foreign. Now, the only two countries left in the region that do not have TV5 are North Korea and Malaysia, for political and religious reasons,” she explained.
Nicolas Piccato, the audio-visual attache at the French Embassy in Korea, came to this country four months ago; his new tasks include the expansion of the network’s reach and development of new programming. “TV5 is available through satellite, Internet and now cable, which is a big step forward since everyone will have easy, cheap and direct access,” Mr. Piccato said. “In Korea, TV5 has a huge challenge because of the government restrictions. We’re trying to form a partnership with Skylife, Korea’s most important satellite service, next year,” he added.
Then why has Korea decided to accept the French channel? “I think Sept. 11 and the Iraq war really changed the atmosphere in Asia,” Ms. De Langalerie-Robin told the JoongAng Daily. “Through two major incidents, Asians realized that they needed to balance opinions and decided to accept another way of thinking.”
Shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States, Hong Kong agreed to launch TV5, then South Korea followed.
No journalists will be dispatched from TV5, though. Throughout Asia, TV5 broadcasts programs, including news, entertainment and sports, that are compiled and edited from those offered by 16 different French-speaking television stations in France, Canada, Belgium and Switzerland. Its programming runs 24 hours a day.
At the moment, TV5 can be viewed in six Seoul districts (Seodamun-gu, Dobong-gu, Gangbuk-gu, Junggu, Gwangjin-gu, Nowon-gu and Seongdong-gu) through Qrix, a local cable operator; in homes that have Asiasat 2 service, or on the Internet by signing up for membership at the French Cultural Institute.
What makes TV5 competitive in Korea? “In France, I’ve seen a surprisingly large number of Korean students studying art in the Ecole Des Beaux-Arts, and Korean films are gaining in popularity. So I’m selecting programs that are culture-based, such as art, movies and fashion,” Ms. De Langalerie-Robin said.
She assures that French art house films will be a strong feature, and two or three movies per week will have English subtitles.
by Ines Cho
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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