Shane Smith, Spike Jonze Rock Paris to Unveil Viceland’s French Channel

Elsa Keslassy
Variety

Vice Media’s CEO and co-founder Shane Smith and filmmaker Spike Jonze unveiled the first slate of Viceland’s French channel at a jam-packed news conference hosted at a hip Parisian club Tuesday evening.

The presser, attended by Viceland’s co-president Eddy Moretti, was followed by a big bash featuring chef-turned-rapper Action Bronson and a flurry of French and U.S. rappers, DJs and musicians late into the night.

Launched in partnership with French pay TV giant Canal Plus Group, the inaugural slate of France’s Viceland will be headlined by three original shows, “Franceland,” “Marseille” and “Census.”

Viceland’s French channel, its first non-English language version, will kick off on Nov. 23 and will be available exclusively to Canal subscribers, repping an estimated 6 million households.

On stage, Smith said the channel’s mantra was to “be less shitty.” “People keep saying it’s the Golden Age of TV but there’s so much crap on TV (…) We want to make stuff that doesn’t suck, stuff that we’re proud of and stand behind.”

Smith said the Brexit vote and last week’s election of Donald Trump underscore the need for a “counter-cultural voice” aimed at the millennial generation. “We need a bigger voice for this generation,” said Smith, who sold 18% of Vice to Disney in August.

In line with the channel’s brand, Viceland’s first original French shows, “Marseille” and “Franceland,” will strive to engage audiences on social and political issues, turn the spotlight on urban culture and underdogs, and provide a no-filter snapshot of French society in the run up to the country’s presidential election. Like most Viceland programs, these thought-provoking shows will be character-driven travelogues.

“Census,” meanwhile, will be a vox populi captured across France with no narrator.

Viceland’s French offer will also include many staple shows, including “Noisey,” “Gaycation” and Gloria Steinem’s “Woman” as well as “State of Undress.”

These programs will be available in their original versions with subtitles or dubbed in French, suggesting Viceland’s plan to reach a wider, older demo beyond generation Y audiences.

Jean-Marc Juramie, head of content for Canal (Canal Plus’s rebranded pay TV channels), said the idea behind the alliance with Viceland was to attract millennial audiences, most of which have never subscribed to the French paybox.

The partnership with Viceland is also part of Canal Plus’s initiatives to widen its scope and double the number of subscribers by 2018.

Viceland currently operates in 34 countries and will next launch in South Asia, Africa and Belgium in the coming months, according to a company rep.

Viceland launched in Australia and New Zealand yesterday.

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