The sixth annual gala of the French-American Chamber of Commerce Foundation in New York took place on September 28, 2017, and honored the television channel TV5 Monde USA with the French Company of the Year Award. Yves Bigot has been the CEO of the Francophone channel since 2013, and spoke to us about the presence of TV5 in the United States.
France-Amérique: TV5 recently organized a French-Language World Tour. How did you develop this project?
Yves Bigot: Two years ago, I was talking to Annick Girardin — who was Secretary of State for Development and Francophonie at the time — about how we could spread the French language across the world. We decided to revisit the event I had organized in 2000 when I was head of the France 2 channel. I had presented an hour-long show filmed live in each time zone to create a 24-hour world tour. For this year’s event, I added a symbolic 25th hour in order to begin in Paris and finish in the same time zone in Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is the world’s largest Francophone city. We received very positive feedback in every city we visited, from Montreal and Moncton to Vancouver and New Orleans.
Your channel invests significantly in Africa, where there are an increasing number of Francophones. What role does the United States play in the TV5 Monde strategy?
We reach 1.5 million viewers in the United States, and it enjoys a privileged place in our show schedule. America is the first country to have received a special channel, in the form of TV5 Monde USA. We are constantly negotiating rights for new shows in order to develop our offering, including movies, series, sports, TV magazines, and kids’ shows.
How to you plan to reach all Francophones across the United States?
We do not have the financial or human resources to broadcast shows specifically for Louisiana or Maine, nor to create special editions about francophone communities in Boston, Florida or California. Our show “Rendez-Vous d’Amérique” already offers a review of Francophone culture in all 50 states, and we try to stay present across the entire country via our partners. We have some 50 partnerships in place with Francophone film festivals, including the New York Film Festival, the Mill Valley Film Festival in San Rafael, COLCOA in Los Angeles, and French Cinema Now! in Seattle. We are also a partner of several music festivals, such as the Festival International de Louisiane in Lafayette. It’s a great way for us to promote Francophone culture in North America!
You can find the TV5 Monde show schedule on our website, and every month in the France-Amérique magazine.