Altice’s Patrick Drahi Vows to Bring i24 News, French-Language Channels to U.S.

PARIS — Patrick Drahi, the French-Israeli tycoon behind Altice, the new parent company of Cablevision and the U.S.’s fourth biggest telecommunications operator, told the AFP that Altice will be launching its news channel i24 News in the U.S. within a year.

Launched in 2013 and headquartered in Israel, i24 News would fill the void left by Al Jazeera America, which folded in January after bowing three years ago in the States.

“The French version (of i24 News) is mainly focused on the Middle East and France. The U.K. version is about the Middle East. The American version will be about the Middle East and the United States,” Drahi told the AFP.

The businessman, who is the founder and controlling shareholder of Altice, added, “I want i24 News to show both sides: The man who’s in Gaza as much as the man who’s in Tel Aviv. I want the French to hear the opinion of Americans. I want the New Yorkers to hear the opinion of the French and all that will enable people to engage in discussions, have a different vision than the one perpetuated by others (alluding to Al Jazeera America) who have indeed not succeeded.” Altice is expected to staff the American version of i24 News with U.S. and French journalists.

Drahi also said he intended on rolling out a slew of French-language channels, including the group’s French news channel BFMTV, in the U.S.

Another item on Altice’s agenda is to develop and produce original French drama series as part of its strategy to invest in premium content. In February, the company appointed Nora Melhli, formerly head of drama at Shine France and CEO of Endemol Fiction, to spearhead original creation and non-linear content, including Zive, its new SVOD platform.

Altice announced on Tuesday the completion of its $17.7 billion acquisition of Cablevision and the subsequent formation of Altice USA, the fourth-largest operator in the country, which combines Cablevision and Suddenlink.

Upon unveiling the deal, Drahi said Altice USA was “a key pillar of (the group’s) business and a powerful and dynamic growth platform,” adding that Altice will “accelerate network investments and bring innovative products and services to U.S.”

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