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Daily LifeFrench Television

In general, I like French TV now that I better understand the language. I find it a window into French culture. It has taught me that the French really like documentaries and news magazines. They like learning about other cultures and peoples; documentaries from and about the world are very common.

A lot of French TV is imported, mostly from the US, but this has not meant that French TV has lost it Frenchness. You can still find a lot of original programming, mostly thanks to, the strong commitment to publicly-owned TV. With TNT it is possible to watch French TV in English.

Or how about TV on your cell phone - my4n.TV

Here is a review of the seven channels that can be picked up on French television without cable.

  • TF1 - Private channel founded in 1987, is the most watched in France. It is actually the heir of the first TV channel, created in the mid fifties. Its stock did a dot com-like crash when the French national football team made an early exit at the 2002 world cup. Tf1 held the TV rights to that world cup and the rights to the next one in 2006. A lot of TF1's programs are much like those in the English speaking world; for example "Qui veut gagner des millions ? "(Who wants to be a millionaire?), Survivor and numerous reality shows are its daily fair, along with movies.
  • France2/France3 - Sometimes it is hard to tell the difference between France2 and France3. Both are public stations that receive most of their budget through a 115-euro TV tax that all television owners in France must pay. One positive effect is that both France2 and France3 have fewer commercials than the private stations.
    In general, France2 is more national in scope and has little, if any, local programming. France3, on the other hand, programs a great deal of local news and public interest shows. It even has news broadcasts in languages other than French. For example, on France 3 Alsace there is a nightly 15-minute news broadcast Rund Um in Alsacien.
    France2 - France3
  • Canal+ - This cable channel shows a limited amount of programming 'en clair'; that is, viewable by all not just those that pay. It has a wide range of programming, sports, news, movies, and comedy, most of it with a hip demeanor.
    Canal Plus
  • Arté - Public cultural channel in partnership with the German government, most programming consists of documentaries and movies from the world over. Only broadcasts after 6 pm, as Arté shares the same channel as France5. Also receives a large part of its funding through the TV tax.
  • France5 - Shows just about nothing but documentaries and news magazines; it only broadcasts during the day. Also receives a large part of its funding through the TV tax.
  • M6 - Probably the most Americanized of any French station, showing a wide range of American films, sitcoms and dramas with some reporting shows sprinkled in. Station markets to a younger audience.
  • TV5MONDE - Note from a reader: You should know that TV5MONDE is available on cable in France. It is useful for those learning the language, but also as a time shift device for viewing French programs such as the news, which are broadcast later in the day or week. It also features sub-titles on many programs and films. The web site also features a dictionary and translator.

HGTV Start at Home: Looking for Americans living in Paris.
After 5 TV Destinations: After 5 TV Helps Boost Local Businesses in the South of France through a New Travel Show.

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