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Al Jazeera Launches English Service

Arabic television news channel Al Jazeera has launched an English-language station. It will broadcast from studios in Doha, Kuala Lumpur, London and Washington, D.C., in addition to 20 other countries.

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    Since its inception in 1996, Al Jazeera has grown into the top-rated news network in the Middle East and a highly influential and controversial name around the world. Broadcasting in Arabic from the small Persian Gulf emirate of Qatar — and bankrolled by its royal family — Al Jazeera reaches more than 50 million households, presenting a 24-hour mix of news and talk shows.

    It has drawn censure and even been banned by some Arab governments for airing dissident views. It's also been criticized by the Bush administration for broadcasting video messages from Osama bin Laden and coverage perceived as anti-American.

    This week, after several delays, Al Jazeera has launched a hugely ambitious new effort: Al Jazeera English, a global news channel in English with an unusual rolling 24-hour rotation, anchored throughout the day in four hubs around the world, east to west, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Doha, Qatar, London, and Washington, D.C.

    Nigel Parsons, who's worked at a number of Western media organizations, is the managing director of Al Jazeera English.

  • NIGEL PARSONS, Managing Director, Al Jazeera English:

    It's the first English-language channel based in the Middle East looking out and the first English-language channel based in the developing world looking out. I think when you start understanding that there are, you know, different ways of looking at stories and different perspectives on them, it does help, you know, bridge those gaps.

    MARWAN KRAIDY, Arab Media and Public Life Project: Al Jazeera is in the company of brands like Google, like Microsoft, like Starbucks, in terms of global recognition. So they know that they can use that recognition of Al Jazeera to basically expand their reach.


    Marwan Kraidy is watching the new effort as director of the Arab Media and Public Life Project at American University in Washington.


    It's a way of showing an alternative point of view to what many people across the world, rightly or wrongly, perceive to be a Western point of view, perhaps best represented by the BBC and CNN.


    And showing it from the developing world or the non-Western world?


    Absolutely, showing it from the developing world perspective. And you see that very clearly in their first day of programming.


    What did you see?


    It opens with two anchors, quite young, saying…


    Day one of a new era in television news.