For many years Jews in the United States and throughout the world longed for an all-cable news channel that really understood Israel. And for years, networks such as CNN, BBC, MSNBC, Fox News, France 24 and Al Jazeera have come up short in presenting Israel’s side of the story, especially when covering the Palestinian conflicts.
Now there is i24 News, which broadcasts in English, French and Arabic, working out of its modern state-of-the-art broadcast center in the ancient port area of Jaffa in Tel Aviv. It is a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week, year-round, all-news operation.
i24 News became a true power in the cable-news industry with its coverage of Operation Protective Edge in Gaza. The network made great use of online live-streaming and through its apps while engaging viewers via social media through the i24 News Facebook page and Twitter feed.
In covering the Gaza conflict, i24 News used its “home-field advantage” to get access to all of the key players in the region, and the i24 News’ “ground troops” were posted in Gaza and throughout all of Israel.
Launched in July 2013, the driving force behind i24 News was Swiss billionaire Patrick Drahi, who owns Altice, a multinational company specializing in telecommunications and cable networks. He has cable and satellite services throughout Europe, the Middle East (including Israel) and South America.
Like CNN, which gives us the news from a U.S. perspective, and the BBC, which offers a more European view of world news, it was Drahi’s dream to have i24 News offer, for the first time, the world as seen through the eyes of Israel.
It was former French political insider and media executive Frank Melloul who made the dream come true. Before joining i24 as CEO, Melloul was part of the creative team that launched the very successful European all-news channel France 24. This multilanguage network can be seen worldwide, including in the Baltimore-Washington area on Comcast Cable.
“I set all the international development strategy for France 24, and I learned that synergy is the key to success,” said Melloul.”This is my philosophy at i24 News.”
When Operation Protective Edge started, the savvy Melloul knew that this was an opportunity to use his talented team of anchors, reporters and technicians to cover every aspect of the conflict.
“To cover a war after less than a year on the air is not an easy thing,” he said. “The biggest challenge was to show the highest level of professionalism in such a situation, and I’m really proud of my team. We have no reason to envy the biggest TV news channels.”
Attracting new viewers in the United States and worldwide has helped build the network’s brand, increase ratings and build loyalty to i24 News’ English, French and Arabic language channels.
“Yes, we are getting new viewers from the United States, and not only Jews,” said Melloul. “We have also been able to build extraordinary ratings in Europe, where we succeeded in overtaking Russia Today, France 24 and Al Jazeera English in the biggest countries. We can start seeing the same patterns in Africa and a stronger impact in the Arab world.
“But having a message is worthless if it is not understood,” he continued. “Multilingual broadcast are essential to the i24 News strategy. We want to target all those who consume international news channels, and that is why we must speak the language of all the people we target.”
Its creative and production staff comes from all over the world, and it is the diversity of the team that makes its programming fresh and interesting. i24 News has a staff of 250, including 150 journalists from 35 countries.
“I am proudest that i24 News is already recognized as the alternative to Al Jazeera in the Middle East,” said Melloul. “But foremost, we have managed to have in the same newsroom Jews, Muslims, Druze and Christians working together, producing the same content in order to provide the Israeli point of view in all its diversity.”
The network can be seen in more than 800 million homes throughout Europe, the Middle East, the West Indies and Africa, and viewership is growing each month. Locally, i24 News can be seen through its arrangement with Jewish Life Television, which can be seen throughout the Mid-Atlantic on Comcast as well as satellite services Dish Network and DirecTV. JLTV has committed to airing a morning news block from 10 a.m. until noon on weekdays, and it also carries a prime-time newscast Sunday through Thursday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
i24 News offers a live-streaming option from its website i24news.tv/en/. Also, i24 News offers free apps, which can be downloaded either at the iTunes Store or at Google Play by searching i24 News.