A brand new sound on the airwaves of Paris: English

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The Babel of different tongues, from Arabic to Serbian, offered by community radio stations in France will be joined by an unusual new language this week - English.

The Babel of different tongues, from Arabic to Serbian, offered by community radio stations in France will be joined by an unusual new language this week - English.

Paris Live Radio, which starts broadcasting on Tuesday morning, is the first attempt to create a music, news and chat station for the estimated 400,000 English-speakers who live in the greater-Paris area. More than that, it is believed to be the first English-language radio station ever to broadcast in France (leaving aside a brief period when the BBC World Service was simultaneously broadcast from Paris).

PLR will be available on cable and satellite networks, operating at first from the basement of a smart new Irish bar, O'Sullivans by the Mill, next door to the Moulin Rouge in Pigalle.

During the day and in the early evening, the radio will broadcast mainstream pop, rock and rap music. There will be a news broadcast every half hour, concentrating on Parisian and French news but also covering important international events.

Gradually, Paris Live Radio hopes to introduce talk-back and chat shows, concentrating on cultural and social life in Paris: where to go, what's hot and what to do off the usual tourist beat. The founder of the station, Ian de Renzie Duncan, 38, usually known as Renzie, said: "There will be changes as we go along, but my ambition is that Paris Live Radio should become the premier source of information for English-speakers living in France on what's going on in Paris and beyond."

Mr Duncan is an Australian barrister who moved to France when his French wife fell seriously ill five years ago. "I'd always been interested in radio and, out of curiosity, I took the law books down from the shelf to see why there was no English-language station in France. Were they banned? No they weren't."

By law, radio broadcasting in France has to have a 40 per cent "French-language content" in its music, to prevent French pop from being swamped by Anglo-Saxon music. As a cable station, Paris Live Radio is exempt from this law but has decided to respect the quota anyway, in the expectation that it will shortly be given an FM broadcasting licence.

"In any case, we reckon that English-speaking people living in France should be introduced to French pop classics and to the best of what newer French bands and singers are doing. Arrogance gets you nowhere," Mr Duncan said.

More than that, Paris Live Radio will break new ground, not just for an English-language radio station, but any radio station in France. After 10pm there will be a show presented by two young Australian DJs, Laura G, 21, and Myles Neave, 30, who will play up-and-coming French bands, chosen from self-recordings sent to the station.

One perverse effect of the radio quota system has been to encourage French stations to play French music classics or the most popular acts over and over, rather than giving airtime to newcomers. PLR is running a competition, "Battle of the Bands", in which new or unknown French groups compete in live concerts in the large music venue at the rear of O'Sullivans (which also has its own programme of visiting Irish rock bands).

The winning band will get a recording contract.

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