Internet TV Comes to France

Internet television has arrived in Europe in the
form of a French company broadcasting business and government events as well
as a batch of quirky live Interactive cultural programs.

Founded in 1998 by the French entrepreneur Jacques Rosselin, CanalWeb.net
aims to “become the leader on the European interactive audiovisual market,
offering programming for TV channels specifically created for the Internet,”
said company spokesman Nathalie Lenne-Fourcade.

CanalWeb is capitalized at FF5.3 million ($913,000). Its staff of 15 are
equipped with seven DV digital cameras, a digital production studio and an
Internet-diffusion control room.

“Our main cash earner is the production and diffusion of Internet broadcasts
for business and government,” said Lenne-Fourcade, adding that, “Demand is
strong. We expect FF9 million in 1999 sales.”

For a typical two-hour press conference, the company would charge about FF60,000.

From Feb. 9-12, the CanalWeb site will broadcast live the 5th edition of the
Paris Porte-de-Versailles conference on the Internet, Intranet and
E-commerce. A schedule appears on the site.

CanalWeb is experimenting with Interactive cultural programming, mostly in
French.

“People come to us with projects. If interested, we propose a co-production and three months of diffusion,” said Lenne-Fourcade. “We plan
to gradually expand this programming, especially adding more English shows
and may sell advertising starting later this year.”

On the home page, clicking a countdown target in the style of early
television takes you to a modest listing of live weekly shows such as
cartoons and an English-language music program. An interactive chess program
allows viewers to follow and respond to a grand master’s moves onscreen. On the “Philosophical Hair salon,” the guest gets a haircut while discussing
the question of the week with the barber and host. All the programs are archived.

With a 45.3 kilobits per second connection, the pictures suffer from the occasional slow
blur typical to Real Video, but also demonstrate the Internet’s promise as a
broadcast medium.

The company counts as its four main shareholders Pierre Bergi, president of
Yves-Saint-Laurent Couture, the group Sud-Ouest through its audiovisual
subsidiary — Atlantel, and two French venture-capital companies. Its Paris
headquarters are in the building that reportedly was the birthplace of
French television in 1956. “We thought this would be an appropriate place
from which to launch the television of tomorrow,” says the site.

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