Al-Jazeera to launch English-language news network
By JOSEPH NASR
The pan-Arab satellite television channel al-Jazeera is planning to launch an English language television news network in what is assessed to be an attempt to reach out to western audiences.
According to the British magazine Private Eye , Steve Clark, an executive producer with Sky News, has been headhunted by the Qatar-based Arabic network to work on the launch of its new venture.
A manager with Al-Jazeera, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed his network's plan to launch an English language news channel, yet refused to elaborate, saying "the plan is in too early stages to give further details."
If successful, the "first ever independent Arabic channel" – as its supporters claim – al-Jazeera English will give its competitors, notably BBC and CNN, a run for their money.
Launched in 1996 following the closure of the BBC's Arabic TV newsroom, al-Jazeera has managed to draw an audience of over 35 million loyal spectators across the world, offering an alternative to western news networks.
Al-Jazeera earned its reputation during the US-led war in Afghanistan, when it broadcast messages released by al-Qaida's no. 1 Osama Bin Laden, thus earning the critical label of "Bin Laden's channel."