TORONTO – If you speak Spanish, Italian or Korean and long to watch your daily dish of news from a disrobed announcer, today is your lucky day.
Toronto-based Naked News, "the program with nothing to hide," announced Thursday that it will expand its foreign-language coverage in an attempt to gain a worldwide audience.
The program, which features nine female anchors reading the news in the nude or stripping as they present their news segments, will now be broadcast in Spanish, Italian and Korean, along with its already available Japanese broadcasts. Naked News President David Warga said the licensing agreements are confidential and could not divulge the names of the local affiliates that will be producing the shows in Milan, Mexico and South Korea.
The multilingual broadcasts will be available online and through mobile providers, as well as on traditional pay-per-view television stations. Naked News TV is currently available on pay-per-view in the U.S., Europe, Australia, Asia and Canada.
The channel gets its information from regular news services and uses professionally trained writers and directors to produce the bulletins of political, business, sport and entertainment news.
Warga said Thursday the company aspires to be an international news organization and that further expansion is planned.
"The original Naked News English version has always focused and presented an international broadcast. Now with the addition of the foreign-language licensees, our intention at Naked News is to be a global media source, much like CNN or BBC World," Warga said. "We have a worldwide audience, but we haven't been able to give them localized news until now."
Created by Fernando Pereira and Kirby Stasyna, Naked News first aired online in 1999 and created quite a lot of attention as anchors aired themselves and the news. The web site was popularized mainly by word of mouth and during its height in 2001 was registering 6 million "unique visitors" a month, which was almost two-thirds of the 9 million monthly viewers registered by CNN at the time.
Time magazine proclaimed the online news broadcast "offers the best international coverage this side of the BBC.".
"What Time said is true. A lot of people write in and tell us, we came for the nudity, but stayed for the content. And that was always our intention, to grab you with the nudity and then hook you with the content," Warga said.
Two years after NakedNews.com launched, it hopped over to TV with a 45-minute cable television news show on a pay-per-view station. A male version of the show was created during this time but ceased in October 2007 due to a dwindling subscriber base.
In January 2006, Naked News Japan was launched as a joint venture between Naked News owner eGalaxy Multimedia and Sunrise Corp, a seller of goods and services over the Internet. Japanese broadcasting laws prohibited the presenters to be fully naked, permitting them only strip to their underwear.
The initial success of the show's concept spawned several international imitators including The Daily Flash, a news program on Playboy TV. In 2006, the French Comedie network launched Les Nuz, which features anchors who read the news with only their underwear on. Warga said he is talking to Les Nuz executives about producing an international French language program. Radio Tango, an Oslo, Norway, radio station, once featured stripping female weather readers on its web site. And in 2002, the Czech television network TV Nova launched PocasDicko, a featurette where a nude woman or man gets dressed in clothing appropriate for that day's weather forecast.
The salacious "Naked News" was also recently the subject of a U.K.-funded documentary entitled "Naked News - Backstage".
Warga, who said the network is expanding into other languages because of the market demand for its brand of "infotainment," said Naked News currently has viewers in more than 172 nations, but could not divulge its subscriber base.
"I can't give you the numbers, but I can tell you we're growing more every day and making a substantial amount of money from it," said Warga. "News and nudity is a concept that just works."