November 23, 2005 4:39 AM PST

Al Jazeera plans to go international in 2006

DOHA, Qatar--Can Al Jazeera find a home on U.S. cable networks? It's going to try next spring.

The media company, which operates an Arabic-language news TV channel and Web sites, will open a 24-hour English-language news channel starting in spring 2006 with broadcasting centers in Kuala Lumpur, London and Washington, D.C.

It will also relaunch its English-language Web site, complete with features like Short Message Service (SMS) publishing. The new station and the revamped Web site will be branded Al Jazeera International.

Subjects covered by the station will run the gamut, including talk shows, sports, international news and regional stories. It will also hire correspondents around the globe, opening up to 30 bureaus worldwide.

Currently, Al Jazeera is negotiating with Astro, a Malaysian satellite TV provider, to carry the channel. No potential U.S. carriers have been named.

The company launched in 1996 with the permission of Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, the ruler of Qatar, who is trying to diversify and modernize the small nation on the Arabian Peninsula. The government does not interfere with the content of the news operation, and that policy will continue with Al Jazeera International.

The station gained fame for playing videotapes of Osama Bin Laden dropped off at its doors, and it has become a source of news in the region for many. U.S. security analysts also watch the station, sometimes with the help of simultaneous translation software.

Like many large companies in the Middle East, Al Jazeera International will largely be managed and staffed by foreigners. Al Jazeera's management looks like the alumni club of a British boarding school. Nigel Parsons, formerly with CNN and the BBC, will be the managing director, while Steve Clark, director of news, hails from England's Sky News. David Foster, another Sky alumnus, will serve as the main presenter, or anchor, from Doha.

Parsons earlier this month held a press conference in Malaysia to launch the effort.

Although the company is speaking to local media about the effort, it currently is refusing interviews with western reporters. The company wants to time news stories about the international push to coincide with the launch of the station and Web site, according to Al Jazeera International spokeswoman Charlotte Dent. Dent, however, did provide a document outlining the strategy.

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Good for them
I, for one, am all for it. While I have to admit I pretty much get all of my news from MSNBC.com and not cable news, it's good to see more companies rise up to play on the world stage. Competition is always good and we especially need to see good examples of "home grown" efforts from the Middle East succeeding if we're going to argue that democracy is a good and healthy thing for the world. I hope that DirecTV and DISH will step up.
Posted by TV James (680 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Another voice is good and appreciate integrity
Another voice is always good. It is our job as participants and consumers of media to hold them to the truth and integrity of the profession. One that hides behind no color, creed, or costume. Truth stands naked for all to see, sometimes at the speakers' expense.
Posted by jmetzger (8 comments )
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Voltaire
"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it"

Freedom is indeed a wonderful thing!
Posted by Mister C (423 comments )
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I'll be horrified, but interested
I've already seen some of the propaganda coming out of Al Jazeera
and it can be frighteningly anti-American, but I am interested in
thier audience's perspective, that they actually believe that crap.

The USA needs thier own mass media voice to dispell these
outrageous claims against the USA, and Jews. They need to
promote the positive of what can be if they move to Democracy,
and explain to Al Jazeera's audience our side of the story. We want
a stable, peaceful and prosperous MiddelEast.
Posted by technewsjunkie (1265 comments )
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RE: I'll be horrified, but interested
What B.S. is that?
I must be none-anti-Amreican or none-Anti-Jews to be right??

OK I totaly disagree with the current Bush admin (as I believe some American do) and my culture and beliefs don't accept SOME of the Americans' ones.. Does that make me a bad guy?

I wondor what is the point of such democracy if we must be tailored EXACTLY AS YOU WANT??

Let AlJazeera at least tell some of our side of the story as we heared yours alot and the audience has their minds and don't need yours
Posted by AbuAnas (10 comments )
Link Flag
Perhaps a good idea,,,,
,,,, maybe Al Jazeera might even find a significant Islamic cleric who
has the guts to tell the Muslims that the Quran does not permit the
suicide bombers or their killing of their fellow Mulsims.

If Islam isn't going to part of the solution, then it is part of the
problem.
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
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Just say no to globalization
I for one am glad Al Jazeera is coming to town. Hopefully they'll get past the Bush machines censorship games and finally expose the new world order for the garbage it really is.
Posted by casper2004 (267 comments )
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I have to disagree with..
"Like many large companies in the Middle East, Al Jazeera International will largely be managed and staffed by foreigners."

I would totally disagree with this part especially for Saudi Arabia. SABAC (and its many subsideries) , Aramco, SaudiTelecom, Saudi Airlines, AEC, Banks ..etc has average of 80% Saudi employees especially at the management and technical levels.
They have foreigners? yes. Largely managed and staffed by foreigners? ABSOLUTELY NOT!
Posted by AbuAnas (10 comments )
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