November 14, 2006

Al Jazeera looks West

Al Jazeera LogoTomorrow sees the launch of “Al Jazeera English”, the international offshoot of the best known Middle Eastern broadcaster.

It’s been a rocky launch and has taken them a year longer than planned, causing untold costs as many of their staff were hired back in 2005. They’ve lost their distributor in the United States and today they announced a last-minute rebrand. They were originally to be known as Al Jazeera International, but it was noted the Arabic version isn’t exactly domestic in its outlook.

I’m looking forward to the channel launching though. AJE, as I’m sure it will be known, could well get similar viewers to CNN, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see it beating BBC World fairly soon. Their only problem might be distribution in hotels where CNN and the BBC have a long history of dominance. But they’re well resourced and have poached a number of well-known faces from the BBC and elsewhere – most notably the Beeb’s Darren Jordon and Rageh Omaar.

Al Jazeera’s been criticised many times in the past for being too close to terrorism, but much of the time it’s little more than a caricature. All I can suggest is that people turn to Sky channel 514 tomorrow or watch online, and see for themselves.

- 4 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Oli

    Chris. The Rageh Omaar link currently points to Darren Jordan’s wikipedia page. Feel free to delete this comment once you’ve edited.

    14 Nov 2006, 20:58

  2. Well spotted!

    14 Nov 2006, 21:11

  3. Max

    Guys you have such an Anglo-Americanocentrist view, it’s so dumb. Beyond BBC and CNN there seems to be nothing in your world. Deutsche Welle World, know as DWTV, has been broadcasting international news in your beloved language for quite a while now and can only be compared to the BBC (CNN doens’t offer international news but pure low-brow US imperialist propaganda, it shouldn’t even be mentioned in this context) in terms of quality. DW is also present in all the hotels you would want to go to, just switch on your telly and zap a bit. In other terms, with BBC, DW and soon F24 (France 24) AJE will be in good company of quality international news channels. It’s, of course, always easier to have a limited restricted world view.

    16 Nov 2006, 16:50

  4. Max, there’s several reasons we’re comparing al-Jazeera with CNN and the BBC. Primarily, I don’t know of anyone who’s heard of DW-TV. It’s only available on Sky Digital (which few people my age have), and even then isn’t listed with the news channels.

    It hasn’t been available in any hotel I’ve ever been to (trust me, I’ve flicked through all of them).

    And surely the fact that we’re getting excited by al-Jazeera means that we don’t have a limited world view?

    17 Nov 2006, 09:07

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