Al Jazeera English signs first major US TV deal

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Al Jazeera English will begin its foray into the American market on July 1 after signing its first major US distribution deal with a cable TV company in the Washington DC area, Arabian Business can reveal.

“On July 1 we are going to launch the first operation in cable distribution in the United States,” Al Jazeera's director general, Wadah Khanfar, said in an interview.

“I can tell you that on July 1 we are going to launch an agreement with a Washington DC based company that has around 2.3 million subscribers.”

The English language version of the Qatari news channel is available in 140m homes in 40 countries, including Israel, but it has been unable to enter America, the world's most important English-language market.

Local operators in Burlington, Vermont and Toledo, Ohio have been the only two exceptions to date.

Many Americans associate the Al Jazeera brand with the Arabic news channel's airing of video tapes from Osama Bin Laden, and US cable operators have been reluctant to add Al Jazeera English to their line-ups amid allegations that it is a “mouthpiece for terrorists”.

However, Khanfar said a more benevolent political climate means that the channel will be able to sign distribution deals across the US in the second half of this year.

“I think the atmosphere is changing now. We have negotiations taking place with many cable companies in the United States and Canada and I hope that very soon we are going to hear a lot of good news,” he said.

“Starting next month, we will have a growing audience in the United States.”

The network has been focusing on breaking into the Washington DC and New York City markets, due to the high number of people there who are interested in international news, he added.

Al Jazeera English began broadcasting in November 2006, after hiring a number of well known international journalists, including veteran UK broadcaster Sir David Frost.

In the interview with Arabian Business, Khanfar also said that he does not believe Al Jazeera's news operations will ever be profitable, but that the Al Jazeera network, which includes sports and documentary channels, could be.

See the July 5 edition of Arabian Business for the full interview.

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Posted by: jamg

mabruk! finally!

Posted by: ZEI

Kudos to Al Jazeera English channel for finaly succeeding to put their foot into the American doorstep. As a devoted viewer fo Al Jazeera English I am convinced the American audiences will get a fairer and clearer view of the world if they include this channel to their favourite list. I am waiting for the day when Al Jazeera English will be able to air in the Indian sub-continent... hopefully the Indian Government will see the writing on the wall and let this channel in. I am sure Indians will welcome Al Jazeera English will an open mind and arms. Keep trying Al Jazeera.

Posted by: Hap

I think Al Jazeera English is the best news channel in the world and to not have it available in the U.S. market would've been ludicrous. Well done Al Jazeera

Posted by: Kevin

Al Jazeera is a top station. Amazing how they come up with special reports and most importnatly , telling the truth...

Posted by: SAS

I live in the US, where Al Jazeera is not widely available. I am, however, able to watch the channel with www.livestation.com as well on the progressive television channel Link TV. So Al Jazeera has made some excellent inroads intot the American market, and so I think we have come a long way since the days the channel was attacked by the White House and bombed by the US military.

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