Al Jazeera hires first anchor for US channel

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Al Jazeera news channel.

Al Jazeera news channel.

Qatar media giant Al Jazeera has announced that it has hired its first anchor for its forthcoming cable channel in the United States.

The TV network, which bought Al Gore's Current TV in January and plans to relaunch it as Al Jazeera America, said it has appointed Ali Velshi of CNN.

Velshi, currently the chief business correspondent and an anchor for CNN, will host a half-hour business programme in prime time once the new channel replaces Current TV.

Neither he nor a spokesman for the channel said they knew exactly when the channel would start, but the transition is expected to happen later this year, Variety reported.

Velshi said in a statement that he was “thrilled” to join the fledgling outlet.

Al Jazeera America is being built out of the remains of Current, the now defunct cable perch backed by former US Vice President Al Gore.

Gore and the network’s other backers sold Current in January. Al Jazeera has been trying for years to establish a US foothold but has not had much success in securing full commitments from major cable and satellite distributors.

Velshi’s new program will initially launch in a weekly format but is expected to move to a five-days-a-week schedule by the end of 2013.

Last month it was reported that Al Jazeera had received 18,000 job applications for 170 positions at its soon-to-be launched US network.

Around 700 editorial and technical staff will be working for Al Jazeera America when it launches.

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