Orange France’s Google News Rival “24/24 Actu” In Search Of A Sustainable Business Model

By Dianne See Morrison – Tue 02 Jun 2009 05:17 AM PST

imageFrench carrier Orange is currently losing money on its news search service 24/24 Actu, which only returns results from its official content partners, according to Orange’s EVP of new growth businesses Raoul Roverato (pictured, right). The service, which was launched in beta in mid-April, and which Orange pits as an alternative to “being used by Google (NSDQ: GOOG) [News] without permission,” works across its mobile, web, and IPTV portals in France. The carrier, which is owned by France Telecom (NYSE: FTE), says their method of partnering with content providers allows them to compensate rights holders and guarantee advertisers that they will be linked to identifiable sources of content, reports

The method, however, doesn’t sound all that great, because according to Roverato, the biggest problem for the business model right now is the rights issue. Currently, Orange foots the bill for the content, and though it can pay for it for one year to “play with,” Roverato called it unsustainable in the long term and that the service would eventually need advertising to support it. Orange will “unplug” the site if it can’t find a business model that works.

Moreover, it looks like not all of France big media companies are that convinced of the service. While 24/24 Actu has attracted some 25 partners including France’s national daily Le Monde, the country’s public broadcaster France Télévisions has yet to join. Roverato said he was “optimistic,” however, that it would come on board eventually.

Orange has asked 80,000 people to test the news search service, with a full launch planned after the summer. If the news service is a success, Orange is considering offering sites for other subject areas, including celebrity news. Orange had 700,000 repeat mobile TV users in France as of the end of March.

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