Al Jazeera to reach US audience through web

Wednesday, November 22, 2006 |  by Staff Writer  

In their attempt to go global earlier this month Al Jazeera, the Qatari-based cable company launched its English version, but was shunned by virtually all US cable and satellite companies.

The controversial Arab network, which airs its Arabic language version in Israel also failed to broadcast in English. Yet, in Israel cable companies merely see this as a slight delay while contract details are being finalized. Israel’s two main cable carriers hope to have Al Jazeera English up and running by the end of December.

But, reaching the potential 80 million households may be difficult without business in America and without any sign of contractors willing to close a deal, Al Jazeera is considering channeling its English broadcasts through the Internet.

Al Jazeera said it already has agreements with Fision, an IPTV service that will soon be available in Houston, Texas, as well as VDC, which offers Internet TV to 10,000 subscribers in the United States. Al-Jazeera also signed a contract with Jump TV, provider of ethnic TV content over the Web.

With this new venue, viewers will be able to watch news from the Arab perspective, which is highly criticized for its anti-Israel and anti-American propaganda. Its staffers argue that while the station adopts an Arab viewpoint, its coverage is balanced because the news company features Israeli officials and perspectives usually lacking in other Arab media coverage of the region.

Danny O’Brien, activist coordinator at the Electronic Frontiers Foundation says not to expect too much too soon from Al Jazeera as it may begin with streaming clips before full broadcasts are aired online.

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