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November 03, 2006

Al-Jazeera in America

Al-Jazeera International is planning to begin broadcasting in the US on November 15th and hopes to be competitive with the likes of CNN and the BBC. It will bring a new perspective to the US news and will likely contribute to a new wave of YouTube clips that provide an entirely different picture of the way the US is seen in the world. The AP had the story a couple days ago.

"We have an edge over the other networks: We're already based in the Middle East. And we have a different perspective," director Wadah Khanfar told a news conference at the network's Doha headquarters Wednesday.

The timing seems pretty good. With Americans starting to be willing to look at what is really going on in Iraq, we will have a picture of the Middle East we are not accustomed to.

Of course the network is accustomed to shaking up their audiences. In the 10-years that Al-Jazeera has been operating in the Arab world, they have been banned from operating in 18 countries for periods of time. They've never been allowed in Saudia Arabia.

"It made the airwaves uncontrollable," Amjad Nasser wrote Wednesday in the London-based pan-Arab daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi.

Al-Jazeera will have more resources than some of their competitors.

Al-Jazeera International has hired more than 500 staffers, poaching some of the world's best-known journalists from networks including the British Broadcasting Corp., CNN, CNBC and ABC. It will broadcast in ultra-expensive high-definition TV with four chief broadcast centers rather than CNN's two or BBC's one.

They are working to get the backing they believe they will need to be credible.

Al-Jazeera has been trying to smooth its entry into the vital U.S. market by casting the channel as the ideal forum for the Bush administration to talk to the Muslim world. Al-Jazeera has had meetings in the White House, with members of Congress and at the State Department and Pentagon, Oliver said.

It has also met with American Jewish media leaders and interest groups to discuss its portrayal of Israel, Holtzman said.

Israel, one of the few countries in the Middle East that has never banned Al-Jazeera, is itself a lucrative target market.

Hold onto your seats. More change on the way.

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 3, 2006 at 09:33 PM in Media | Permalink


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