Al Jazeera

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Al Jazeera ("The Peninsula"), an Arabic language news channel in based in Doha, Qatar, was launched November 1996. [6] Al Jazeera has inspired the creation of Telesur, a new television channel launched by the Venezuelan, Argentine, Uruguayan and Cuban governments.


Al Jazeera English

Al Jazeera English was launched in November 2006. In March 2008, the New York Times reported that "although Al Jazeera English, a 16-month-old companion to the Arabic-language Al Jazeera, reaches 100 million households around the world, it has so far been unable to secure widespread cable distribution in the United States." [1] Also in March 2008, David Marash, "the most prominent American anchor on Al Jazeera English, has quit the 24-hour international news channel, citing an increased level of editorial control exercised by the channel’s headquarters in Doha, Qatar," reported the New York Times. "Mr. Marash's departure coincides with reports of financial cutbacks at the channel. On Wednesday The Guardian in Britain reported that more than 15 staff members of Al Jazeera English had quit or resigned in recent months 'amid complaints of a lack of clarity over its direction, contractual disputes and speculation over a relaunch later this year.'" [1]

Al Jazeera and the U.S.-led war in Iraq

The U.S.-backed Iraqi Governing Council temporarily banned the Arabic-language networks Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya from government buildings and news conferences Tuesday, saying the networks promote violence. [2]

Leaked report: Bush plot to bomb Al Jazeera

After the UK's Daily Mirror newspaper reported Tuesday, November 22, 2005, that a "secret British government memo said British Prime Minister Tony Blair had talked" President George W. Bush "out of bombing" Al Jazeera in April 2004, "Britain has warned media organizations they are breaking the law if they publish details of [the] leaked document," Reuters reported November 23, 2005. According to Reuters' report:

  • "The Mirror said the memo came from Blair's Downing Street office and turned up in May last year at the local office of Tony Clarke, then a member of parliament for the town of Northampton. Clarke handed the document back to the government."
  • "The Mirror said Bush told Blair at a White House summit on April 16 last year that he wanted to target Al Jazeera. The summit took place as U.S. forces in Iraq were launching a major assault on the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah."
  • "The paper quoted an unnamed government official suggesting Bush's threat was a joke but added another unidentified source saying the U.S. president was serious."
  • "In 2001, the station's Kabul office was hit by U.S. bombs and in 2003 Al Jazeera reporter Tareq Ayyoub was killed in a U.S. strike on its Baghdad office. The United States has denied deliberately targeting the station."
  • "Al Jazeera said that, if true, the story would raise serious doubts about the U.S. administration's version of previous incidents involving the station's journalists and offices."

Following the original report, Attorney General Lord Goldsmith warned news outlets that publication of any further details from the memo would be treated as a breach of the Official Secrets Act. [3]

Leakers Charged

Cabinet Office civil servant David Keogh "has been charged under Britain’s Official Secrets Act for allegedly leaking" the government memo, "described as a transcript of a conversation" between Bush and Blari, to the Daily Mirror, which "attributed its information to unidentified sources," NBC News reported November 22, 2005.

"Keogh is accused of passing [the memo] to Leo O’Connor, who formerly worked for former British lawmaker Tony Clarke. Both Keogh and O’Connor are scheduled to appear at London’s Bow Street Magistrates Court next week," NBC News wrote. "Keogh was charged with an offense under Section 3 of the Official Secrets Act relating to 'a damaging disclosure' by a servant of the Crown of information relating to international relations or information obtained from a state other than the United Kingdom. ... O’Connor was charged under Section 5, which relates to receiving and disclosing illegally disclosed information."

Criticism from the Left

Related links

Public relations campaign, 2005

In January 2005, the UK-based Media Bulletin reported that, in order to smoothe the way for negotiations with cable companies interested in carrying Al Jazeera English laguage programs, it was looking for a global PR company. According to the report, companies including Chime Communications, Publicis and Grayling had been shortlisted while major PR companies had withdrawn.

"Four or five agencies, including Burson-Marsteller and Hill & Knowlton, pulled out of the pitch process at very short notice," Al Jazeera international managing director Nigel Parsons told Media Bulletin.

In January 2005, the New York Timesreported that intense pressure from the U.S. government had led the the Qatari government to accelerate plans to sell Al Jazeera to private buyers. "We have recently added new members to the Al Jazeera editorial board, and one of their tasks is to explore the best way to sell it ... We really have a headache, not just from the United States but from advertisers and from other countries as well," a Qatari government official who insisted on anonymity said. [4]

In late February 2005, PR Week reported that former Hill & Knowlton PR executive Charlotte Dent had taken up the position of PR and marketing executive. [5]

Al Jazeera International has retained Brown Lloyd James (BLJ), a PR firm with offices in New York, Washington and London, as its agency of record. Set to launch in 2006, Al Jazeera International will be the 24-hour English-language news channel run by the Qatar-base company. According to PR Week, BLJ will promote the channel to industry trade publications and may eventually target news "consumers." BLJ received $37,500 for work in 2003 to help build political support in Washington for Iyad Allawi in his bid to become prime minister of Iraq. BLJ clients include the BBC, Disney and the Ford Foundation among others. [6]


BBC Arabic Television, launched by the corporation's commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, and funded by the giant Saudi Arabian Mawarid Group, was always going to be a problem child. The plan was to establish a BBC Arabic-language TV channel, beamed across the Middle East, North Africa and ultimately to Europe and the US. The negotiations for this channel had gone on between the BBC and Mawarid's subsidiary, Orbit Communications Corporation, for several months before an agreement was finally being signed on 24 March, 1994.

During the short life of BBC Arabic Television, there were reportedly several angry "liaison meetings" with Orbit. At issue was the BBC's insistence on editorial independence while Orbit accused it of failing to observe "cultural sensitivities".

Barely a decade old, Al Jazeera came into being as a joint venture between the British Broadcasting Corporation and the Saudi government. Thomas said the aim was to create a non-state- controlled media operation. The venture bumped along until Al Jazeera aired an uncensored talk show critically examining executions, prompting the Saudi government "to literally pull the plug.'

The Sheik of Qatar offered the fledgling agency a home and public funding in his country.

The Sudanese national security department has called for the withdrawal of the license of al-Jazeera TV in Khartoum. The director of information section at the department said that he proposed a memorandum to the "national council for the press and printing" to ultimately pull out the license.

He explained that the memorandum included enough evidence on the violations of al-Jazeera office, which he described embarking on lies and distorting facts, in the items broadcast from Sudan. [7]

Sudan's internal security agency shut Al Jazeera's office in the Sudanese capital and detained a senior staff member, accusing the channel of biased reporting. [8]

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External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 Brian Stelter, "American Anchor Quits Al Jazeera English Channel," New York Times, March 28, 2008.
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  6. [5]