Originally Posted by salam92uk
Al-Jazeera's English Channel to Hit Air
Updated: 7:23 a.m. ET Nov 15, 2006
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - Ten years after launching an Arabic-language network that angered leaders in the region and in Washington, Al-Jazeera on Wednesday was unveiling an English broadcast available in more than 80 million homes but lacking major U.S. distribution.
Al-Jazeera English was preparing to hit the airwaves at 7 a.m. EST at the station's headquarters in Doha, capital of the tiny Persian Gulf state of Qatar. Wednesday morning, the station was showing a graphic of a clock ticking down the minutes to air.
Al-Jazeera, which is bankrolled by Qatar's royal family, said its signal would reach 80 million households with cable and satellite TV, mainly in the Middle East and Europe. It hopes to steal viewers from CNN and the British Broadcasting Corp. by giving the world's 1 billion English speakers news from a non-Western perspective.
Al-Jazeera's feisty Arabic news channel is well known for angering leaders in the West and the Arab world, where it has been banned from operating in 18 countries at various times. Four Arab nations still bar its reporters.
The station has broken new ground covering once-taboo political, religious and social subjects, while airing interviews with opposition figures and Israeli officials who previously were absent from other Arab networks.
In Washington, Bush administration officials have branded the network's airing of messages from Osama bin Laden as an incitement to terrorism and criticized its often graphic coverage of bloodshed in Iraq.
Al-Jazeera says the messages and images are newsworthy. It has promoted its broadcasts to U.S. officials as the ideal venue to address the Muslim world.
Still, the station is burdened with a reputation among Americans as anti-U.S. _ an image Al-Jazeera insists is unfair. Its staffers argue that while the station has an Arab viewpoint, its coverage is balanced.
At least for now, most Americans will have no chance to see Al-Jazeera to judge for themselves. Al-Jazeera's list of U.S. carriers included none of the major U.S. cable TV providers: Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications, Charter Communications or Cablevision. Neither of the two major satellite TV providers in the U.S. _ Dish Network and DirecTV _ are carrying the network.
Some U.S. cable carriers are adopting a "show-me" policy, waiting to see what sort of reaction the station generates before agreeing to carry it, said Michael Holtzman, a PR spokesman for the network.
Al-Jazeera English will be available to American customers of GlobeCast, the subsidiary of a French company that offers satellite TV service.
The other companies Al-Jazeera English said it had agreements with are Fision, a digital service that will be available shortly in Houston; Jump TV, which describes itself as "the world's leading broadcaster of ethnic TV over the Internet; and VDC, a service that offers TV on the Internet to about 10,000 customers in the U.S.
The broadcast will also be streamed live on Al-Jazeera English's Internet site.
Across Europe and the Middle East, Al-Jazeera English will be widely available on major cable providers in Britain, Germany, Italy and even Israel.
The launch was originally scheduled for early 2006 but was repeatedly postponed due to technical problems and licensing issues. Al-Jazeera executives said they are negotiating with carriers in the U.S., Asia and elsewhere to broadcast its signal.
Al-Jazeera English hired more than 500 staffers, poaching journalists from American and British networks, including onetime CNN anchor Riz Khan, the BBC's David Frost and former ABC correspondent Dave Marash.
It will broadcast in high-definition TV, with its chief broadcast centers in Doha, London, Washington and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.