Media News

Euronews plans major expansion to rival CNN, BBC

* Plans expansion to take on rivals, CNN and BBC World News

* EU and broadcaster-owners will pay for expansion

LONDON, Jan 19 (Reuters) - International news TV channel euronews plans a major expansion centred around a new, 20-person bureau in Brussels to better distinguish itself from rivals CNN International TWX.N and BBC World News [BBC.UL].

Euronews, owned by 21 European state broadcasters and which claims 7.5 million viewers daily around the world, also said it would introduce more reporters’ faces on its bulletins to complement its trademark “no comment” feeds of raw news.

The expansion of the multilingual news channel, which was founded in 1993 and almost went bust in 2002, will cost tens of millions of euros, will be funded by the European Union and the broadcasters who own euronews.

“We know that a lot of newsrooms are cutting back. This is the moment for us to put our flag,” Lucian Sarb, euronews’ director of news and programmes, told a news conference in London. “We have to try to find our specificity.”

As an example of euronews’ rising influence, he cited an exclusive interview the channel had earlier this month with Laurent Gbagbo, the incumbent Ivory Coast president who is refusing to step down after losing an election.

Euronews will open new permanent desks in Paris, Kiev, Istanbul, Dubai, Washington and Beijing this year. It will also introduce applications for Apple's AAPL.O iPad and iPhone, and is working with Panasonic 6752.T on Internet-connected TV. (Reporting by Georgina Prodhan; Editing by Louise Heavens)