Al Jazeera

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This article is about the television network and channel. For the English-language channel, see Al Jazeera English. For the American channel, see Al Jazeera America. For the unrelated magazine, see Aljazeera Publishing. For other uses, see Jazira.
Al Jazeera
Type Satellite television network
Country Qatar
Availability Worldwide
Owner Al Jazeera Media Network
Key people
Sheikh Hamad bin Thamer Al Thani, Chairman
Sheikh Ahmad bin Jassim al-Thani[1]
Aljazeera Satellite Channel (Al Jazeera Arabic)
Aljazeera.svg
Launched 1 November 1996
Owned by Al Jazeera Media Network
Slogan "The Opinion and The Other Opinion"
Country Qatar
Language Arabic
Broadcast area Worldwide
Headquarters Doha, Qatar
Sister channel(s) Al Jazeera English
Al Jazeera Mubasher
Al Jazeera Balkans
Al Jazeera Turk
Al Jazeera Documentary
Website Al Jazeera Arabic
Availability
Terrestrial
Nilesat UHF service
Freeview HD (UK) Channel 84
Satellite
Arabsat 12034 H - 27500 - 3/4
yes (Israel) Channel 176
Cable
Virgin Media (UK) Channel 831
Mozaic TV Channel 100
CableVision (Lebanon) Unknown
Various cable systems in various countries Check Local listings
IPTV
TalkTalk Plus TV (UK) Channel 459
Streaming media
Livestation Al Jazeera Arabic (Free, 502 Kbit/s)

Al Jazeera (Arabic: الجزيرةal-ǧazīrah IPA: [æl dʒæˈziːrɐ], literally "The Island", abbreviating "The Arabian Peninsula"), also known as Aljazeera and JSC (Jazeera Satellite Channel), is a Doha-based broadcaster owned by the Al Jazeera Media Network, which is funded by the House of Thani, the ruling family of Qatar.[2] Initially launched as an Arabic news and current affairs satellite TV channel, Al Jazeera has since expanded into a network with several outlets, including the Internet and specialty TV channels in multiple languages. Al Jazeera is accessible in several world regions. Al Jazeera is owned by the government of Qatar.[2][3][4][5][6][7] While Al Jazeera officials have stated that they are editorially independent from the government of Qatar, this assertion has been disputed.[8] Al Jazeera was the subject of a split in the Gulf Cooperation Council that prompted the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain to recall their ambassadors from Qatar on 5 March 2014.[9]

The original Al Jazeera channel's willingness to broadcast dissenting views, for example on call-in shows, created controversies in the Arab States of the Persian Gulf. The station gained worldwide attention following the outbreak of war in Afghanistan, when it was the only channel to cover the war live, from its office there.[10]

In the 2000s, the network was praised by the Index on Censorship for circumventing censorship and contributing to the free exchange of information in the Arab world, and by the Webby Awards, who nominated it as one of the five best news web sites, along with BBC News, National Geographic and The Smoking Gun. It was also voted by Brandchannel readers as the fifth most influential global brand behind Apple, Google, Ikea and Starbucks. In 2011, Salon.com said Al Jazeera's coverage of the 2011 Egyptian protests was superior to that of the American news media. Hillary Clinton stated that the US was losing the information war as "Al Jazeera has been the leader in that [they] are literally changing people’s minds and attitudes. And like it or hate it, it is really effective," she said.[11] The channel aims "emphasizing news from the developing world, without an Anglo-American world-view".[12]

Some observers have noted that the network reports the news mainly from liberal Arab nationalist and moderate Islamist perspectives and having a pro-Sunni and an anti-Shia bias in its reporting of regional issues.[13] The network has also been accused of being anti-American.[citation needed]

Etymology[edit]

In Arabic, al-ǧazīrah literally means "the island". However, it refers here[14] to the Arabian Peninsula, which is شبه الجزيرة العربية šibh al-ğazīrah al-ʿarabiyyah, abbreviated to الجزيرة العربية al-ğazīrah al-ʿarabiyyah.

History[edit]

Launch[edit]

Al Jazeera Satellite Channel now known as Al Jazeera Arabic (AJA) was launched on 1 November 1996 following the closure of the BBC's Arabic language television station, a joint venture with Orbit Communications Company. The BBC channel had closed after a year and a half when the Saudi government attempted to suppress info, including a graphic report on executions and prominent dissident views.[15]

The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa, provided a loan of QAR 500 million ($137 million) to sustain Al Jazeera through its first five years, as Hugh Miles detailed in his book Al Jazeera: The Inside Story of the Arab News Channel That Is Challenging the West. Shares were held by private investors as well as the Qatar government.

Al Jazeera's first day on the air was 1 November 1996. It offered 6 hours of programming per day; this would increase to 12 hours by the end of 1997. It was broadcast to the immediate neighborhood as a terrestrial signal, and on cable, as well as through satellites (which was also free to users in the Arab world). Ironically Qatar, like many other Arab countries, barred private individuals from having satellite dishes until 2001.

At the time of Al Jazeera's launch, Arabsat was the only satellite broadcasting to the Middle East, and for the first year could only offer Al Jazeera a weak C-band transponder that needed a large satellite dish for reception. A more powerful Ku-band transponder became available as a peace-offering after its user, Canal France International, accidentally beamed 30 minutes of pornography into ultraconservative Saudi Arabia.[16]

Al Jazeera was not the first such broadcaster in the Middle East; a number had appeared since the Arabsat satellite, a Saudi Arabia-based venture of 21 Arab governments, took orbit in 1985. The unfolding of Operation Desert Storm on CNN International underscored the power of live television in current events. While other local broadcasters in the region would assiduously avoid material embarrassing to their home governments (Qatar had its own official TV station as well), Al Jazeera was pitched as an impartial news source and platform for discussing issues relating to the Arab world.

In presenting "The opinion and the other opinion" (the station's motto), it did not take long for Al Jazeera to shock local viewers by presenting Israelis speaking Hebrew on Arab TV for the first time. Lively and far-ranging talk shows, particularly a popular, confrontational one called The Opposite Direction, were a constant source of controversy regarding issues of morality and religion. This prompted a torrent of criticism from the conservative voices among the region's press. It also led to official complaints and censures from neighboring governments. Some jammed Al Jazeera's terrestrial broadcast or expelled its correspondents. In 1999, the Algerian government reportedly cut power to several major cities in order to censor one broadcast. There were also commercial repercussions: Saudi Arabia reportedly pressured advertisers to avoid the channel, to great effect. Al Jazeera was also becoming a favorite sounding board for militant groups such as Hamas and Chechen separatists.

Al Jazeera was the only international news network to have correspondents in Iraq during the Operation Desert Fox bombing campaign in 1998. In a precursor of a pattern to follow, its exclusive video clips were highly prized by Western media.

Around the clock[edit]

1 January 1999 was Al Jazeera's first day of 24-hour broadcasting.[17] Employment had more than tripled in one year to 500 employees, and the agency had bureaus at a dozen sites as far as EU and Russia. Its annual budget was estimated at about $25 million at the time.

However controversial, Al Jazeera was rapidly becoming one of the most influential news agencies in the region. Eager for news beyond the official versions of events, Arabs became dedicated viewers. A 2000 estimate pegged nightly viewership at 35 million, ranking Al Jazeera first in the Arab world, over the Saudi Arabia-sponsored Middle East Broadcasting Centre (MBC) and London's Arab News Network (ANN). There were about 70 satellite or terrestrial channels being broadcast to the Middle East, most of them in Arabic. Al Jazeera launched a free Arabic language web site in January 2001. In addition, the TV feed was soon available in United Kingdom for the first time via British Sky Broadcasting.

War in Afghanistan[edit]

Al Jazeera came to the attention of many in the West during the hunt for Osama bin Laden and the Taliban in Afghanistan after the September 11 attacks on the United States. It aired videos it received from Osama bin Laden and the Taliban, deeming new footage of the world's most wanted fugitives to be newsworthy. Some criticized the network for giving a voice to terrorists.[18][19] Al Jazeera's Washington, D.C. bureau chief, Hafez al-Mirazi compared the situation to that of the Unabomber's messages in The New York Times.[20] The network said it had been given the tapes because it had a large Arab audience.[21]

Many other TV networks were eager to acquire the same footage. CNN International had exclusive rights to it for six hours before other networks could broadcast, a provision that was broken by the others on at least one controversial occasion.[22] Prime Minister Tony Blair soon appeared on an Al Jazeera talk show on 14 November 2001 to state Britain's case for pursuing the Taliban into Afghanistan.[23]

Al Jazeera's prominence rose during the war in Afghanistan because it had opened a bureau in Kabul before the war began. This gave it better access for videotaping events than other networks, which bought Al Jazeera's footage, sometimes for as much as $250,000.[24]

The Kabul office was destroyed by United States bombs in 2001.[25] Looking to stay ahead of possible future conflicts, Al Jazeera then opened bureaus in other troubled spots.

The network remained dependent on government support in 2002, with a budget of $40 million and ad revenues of about $8 million. It also took in fees for sharing its news feed with other networks. It had an estimated 45 million viewers around the world. Al Jazeera soon had to contend with a new rival, Al Arabiya, an offshoot of the Middle East Broadcasting Center, which was set up in nearby Dubai with Saudi financial backing.[26]

2003 Iraq War[edit]

Before and during the United States-led invasion of Iraq, where Al Jazeera had a presence since 1997, the network's facilities and footage were again highly sought by international networks. The channel and its web site also were seeing unprecedented attention from viewers looking for alternatives to embedded reporting and military press conferences.

Al Jazeera moved its sports coverage to a new, separate channel in 1 November 2003, allowing for more news and public affairs programming on the original channel. An English language web site had launched earlier in March 2003. The channel had about 1,300 to 1,400 employees, its newsroom editor told The New York Times. There were 23 bureaus around the world and 70 foreign correspondents, with 450 journalists in all.

On 1 April 2003, a United States plane fired on Al Jazeera's Baghdad bureau, killing reporter Tareq Ayyoub.[27] The attack was called a mistake; however, Qatar had supplied the US with a precise map of the location of the bureau in order to spare it from attack.[28][29]

Afshin Rattansi became the channel's first English-language broadcast journalist after he left the BBC Today Programme, after the death of UK Government Scientist, David Kelly.

Organization[edit]

The original Al Jazeera channel was started in 1 November 1996 by an emiri decree with a loan of 500 million Qatari riyals (US$137 million) from the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa.[30][31] By its funding through loans or grants rather than direct government subsidies, the channel claims to maintain independent editorial policy.[32][33] The channel began broadcasting in late 1996, with many staff joining from the BBC World Service's Saudi-co-owned Arabic language TV station, which had shut down in 1 April 1996 after two years of operation because of censorship demands by the Saudi Arabian government. [34] The Al Jazeera logo is a decorative representation of the network's name written using Arabic calligraphy. It was selected by the station's founder, Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa, as the winning entry in a design competition.[14]

Staff[edit]

Wadah Khanfar, Former Director General of Al Jazeera Media Network

Al Jazeera restructured its operations to form a network that contains all their different channels. Wadah Khanfar, the then managing director of the Arabic Channel, was appointed as the director general of Al Jazeera Media Network. He also acted as the managing director of the Arabic Channel. Khanfar resigned on 20 September 2011 proclaiming that he had achieved his original goals, and that 8 years was enough time for any leader of an organization, in an interview aired on Al Jazeera English. Ahmed bin Jassim Al Thani replaced Khanfar and served as the director general of the channel from September 2011 to June 2013 when he was appointed minister of economy and trade.[35] The chairman of the channel is Hamad bin Thamer Al Thani.

The editor-in-chief of the Arabic website is Mustafa Soug who replaced Ahmed Sheikh. It has more than 100 editorial staff. The managing director of Al Jazeera English is Al Anstey. The Editor-in-Chief of the English-language site is Mohamed Nanabhay who has run the site since 2009. Previous editors have included Beat Witschi and Russell Merryman.

Prominent on-air personalities include Faisal al-Qassem, host of the talk show The Opposite Direction, Ahmed Mansour, host of the show Without Borders (bi-la Hudud) and Sami Haddad.

Its former Iran and Beirut Bureau Chief was Ghassan bin Jiddo. He became an influential figure on Al Jazeera with his program Hiwar Maftuh, one of the most frequently watched programs.[36] He also interviewed Nasrallah in 2007 and produced a documentary about Hezbollah.[36] Some suggested that he would even replace Wadah Khanfar.[36] However, bin Jiddo resigned from his job after political disagreements with the station.[36]

Reach[edit]

Many governments in the Middle East deploy state-run media or government censorship to impact local media coverage and public opinion, leading to international objections regarding press freedom and biased media coverage.[37] Some scholars and commentators use the notion of contextual objectivity,[38] which highlights the tension between objectivity and audience appeal, to describe the station's controversial yet popular news approach.[39]

Increasingly, Al Jazeera's exclusive interviews and other footage are being rebroadcast in American, British, and other western media outlets such as CNN and the BBC. In January 2003, the BBC announced that it had signed an agreement with Al Jazeera for sharing facilities and information, including news footage.[40]

Al Jazeera's availability (via satellite) throughout the Middle East changed the television landscape of the region. Prior to the arrival of Al Jazeera, many Middle Eastern citizens were unable to watch TV channels other than state-controlled national TV stations. Al Jazeera introduced a level of freedom of speech on TV that was previously unheard of in many of these countries. Al Jazeera presented controversial views regarding the governments of many Arab states in the Persian Gulf area, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar; it also presented controversial views about Syria's relationship with Lebanon, and the Egyptian judiciary. Critics accused Al Jazeera of sensationalism in order to increase its audience share. Al Jazeera's broadcasts have sometimes resulted in drastic action: for example, when, on 27 January 1999, critics of the Algerian government appeared on the channel's live program El-Itidjah el-Mouakass ("The Opposite Direction"), the Algerian government cut the electricity supply to large parts of the capital Algiers (and allegedly also to large parts of the country), to prevent the program from being seen.[37][38][41]

At that time, Al Jazeera was not yet generally known in the Western world, but where it was known, opinion was often favourable[42] and Al Jazeera claimed to be the only politically independent television station in the Middle East. However, it was not until late 2001 that Al Jazeera achieved worldwide recognition, when it broadcast video statements by al-Qaeda leaders.[43]

Some observers have argued that Al Jazeera has formidable authority as an opinion-maker. Noah Bonsey and Jeb Koogler, for example, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review, argue that the way in which the station covers any future Israeli-Palestinian peace deal could well determine whether or not that deal is actually accepted by the Palestinian public.[44]

The channel's tremendous popularity has also, for better or worse, made it a shaper of public opinion. Its coverage often determines what becomes a story and what does not, as well as how Arab viewers think about issues. Whether in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, or Syria, the stories highlighted and the criticisms aired by guests on Al Jazeera's news programs have often significantly affected the course of events in the region.

In Palestine, the station's influence is particularly strong. Recent polling indicates that in the West Bank and Gaza, Al Jazeera is the primary news source for an astounding 53.4 percent of Palestinian viewers. The second and third most watched channels, Palestine TV and Al Arabiya, poll a distant 12.8 percent and 10 percent, respectively. The result of Al Jazeera's market dominance is that it has itself become a mover and shaker in Palestinian politics, helping to craft public perceptions and influence the debate. This has obvious implications for the peace process: how Al Jazeera covers the deliberations and the outcome of any negotiated agreement with Israel will fundamentally shape how it is viewed—and, more importantly, whether it is accepted—by the Palestinian public.

Al Jazeera's broad availability in the Arab world "operat[ing] with less constraint than almost any other Arab outlet, and remain[ing] the most popular channel in the region", has been perceived as playing a part in the Arab Spring, including the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions. The New York Times stated in January 2011: "The protests rocking the Arab world this week have one thread uniting them: Al Jazeera, ... whose aggressive coverage has helped propel insurgent emotions from one capital to the next." The newspaper quoted Marc Lynch, a professor of Middle East Studies at George Washington University: "They did not cause these events, but it's almost impossible to imagine all this happening without Al Jazeera."[45]

With Al Jazeera's growing global outreach and influence, some scholars including Adel Iskandar have described the station as a transformation of the very definition of "alternative media."[46]

Expansion outside the Middle East[edit]

Al Jazeera English[edit]

Main article: Al Jazeera English

In 2003, Al Jazeera hired its first English-language journalists, among whom was Afshin Rattansi,[47] from the BBC's Today Programme.

In March 2003, it launched an English-language website.[48] (see below)

On 4 July 2005 Al Jazeera officially announced plans to launch a new English-language satellite service to be called Al Jazeera International.[49] The new channel started at 12h GMT on 15 November 2006 under the name Al Jazeera English and has broadcast centers in Doha (next to the original Al Jazeera headquarters and broadcast center), London, Kuala Lumpur and Washington D.C. The channel is a 24-hour, 7-days-a-week news channel, with 12 hours broadcast from Doha, and four hours each from London, Kuala Lumpur, and Washington D.C.

Al Jazeera launched an English language channel, originally called Al Jazeera International, in 2006. Among its staff were journalists hired from ABC's Nightline and other top news outfits. Josh Rushing,[50] a former media handler for CENTCOM during the Iraq war, agreed to provide commentary; David Frost was also on board.[51][52] In an interesting technical feat, the broadcast of the new operation was handed off between bases in Doha, London, Washington, D.C., and Kuala Lumpur on a daily cycle.

The new English language venture faced considerable regulatory and commercial hurdles in the North America market for its perceived sympathy with extremist causes.[53][54][55] At the same time, others felt Al Jazeera's competitive advantage lay in programming in the Arabic language. There were hundreds of millions of potential viewers among the non-Arabic language speaking Muslims in Europe and Asia, however, and many others who might be interested in seeing news from the Middle East read by local voices. If the venture panned out, it would extend the influence of Al Jazeera, and tiny Qatar, beyond even what had been achieved in the station's first decade. In an interesting twist of fate, the BBC World Service was preparing to launch its own Arabic language station in 2007.

Al Jazeera Balkans[edit]

Main article: Al Jazeera Balkans

In 2011, Al Jazeera Media Network launched Al Jazeera Balkans based in Sarajevo and serving Bosnia and Herzegovina in both the Bosnian language, Serbian language and the Croatian language. The look and feel of the network is similar to Al Jazeera English.

Al Jazeera America[edit]

Main article: Al Jazeera America

In January 2013, Al Jazeera Media Network purchased Current TV, which was partially owned by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore. Using part of Current TV's infrastructure, Al Jazeera launched an American news channel in August 2013.

Though Current TV had large distribution throughout the United States on cable and satellite television, it averaged only 28,000 viewers at any time.[56] The acquisition of Current TV by Al Jazeera allowed Time Warner Cable to drop the network due to its low ratings, but released a statement saying that they would consider carrying the channel after they evaluated whether it made sense for their customers.[57][58][59][60][61][62] Time Warner Cable later began carrying Al Jazeera America in December 2013. Al Jazeera America began broadcasting on 20 August 2013.

In August 2014 Gore and fellow shareholder Joel Hyatt launched a lawsuit against Al Jazeera claiming a residual payment of $65 million of the sale proceeds, due in 2014, remained unpaid.[63]

Al Jazeera Turk[edit]

Main article: Al Jazeera Turk

Al Jazeera has been preparing to launch a Turkish language news channel called Al Jazeera Türk. On 10 February 2011, Al Jazeera acquired Turkey's Cine 5 television channel.[64] Al Jazeera Turk launched its website with news in 2014 complete with video clips. The full channel is expected to fully launch in late 2014

Sport channels[edit]

Main article: beIN Sport

beIN Sport is a global network of sports channels jointly owned and operated by Qatari Sports Investments, an affiliate of Al Jazeera Media Network and American media company Turner Broadcasting System, a subsidiary of Time Warner. It currently operates three channels in France – beIN Sport 1, beIN Sport 2 and beIN Sport MAX – and launched two channels in the United States (English and Spanish) in August 2012.[65] The channel also holds Canadian broadcast rights to several sports properties despite not yet having authorization to broadcast in Canada.

In France, beIN Sport holds the rights to broadcast major football tournaments on French television, including Ligue 1, Bundesliga, the UEFA Champions League and the European Football Championships. In the United States and Canada, beIN Sport holds the rights to broadcast La Liga, Serie A, Ligue 1, Copa del Rey, South American World Cup Qualifier and English Championship matches, in addition to Barca TV.[66]

In October 2009, Al Jazeera acquired six sports channels of the ART.[67] On 26 November 2009, Al Jazeera English received approval from the CRTC, which enables Al Jazeera English to broadcast via satellite in Canada.[68]

Availability[edit]

The original Al Jazeera channel is available worldwide through various satellite and cable systems.[69]

Following the launch of Al Jazeera America, Al Jazeera English is no longer available in the United States. It had been available through live streaming over the Al Jazeera website, free to air DVB-S on the Galaxy 19 (and Galaxy 23 C-band) satellites, and it had been broadcast over the air in the Washington, DC DMA by WNVC on digital channel 30-5, and on digital channel 48.2 in the New York metro area, but those broadcasts were discontinued on 20 August 2013. Al Jazeera English had been available to cable TV viewers in Toledo, Ohio; Burlington, Vermont; New York City (WRNN rebroadcast), Washington State and Washington, D.C (a rebroadcast of WNVC's feed), but those sources were switched to Al Jazeera America on 20 August 2013. Many analysts had considered the limited availability of Al Jazeera English in the United States to be effectively a "black out".[70][71]

In contrast, in the United Kingdom, Al Jazeera English is available on the Sky and Freesat satellite platforms, as well as the standard terrestrial service (branded Freeview), thus making it available to the vast majority of UK households. On 26 November 2013 it launched a HD simulcast on certain terrestrial transmitters.[72]

Al Jazeera can also be freely viewed with a DVB-S receiver in Europe, Northern Africa and the Middle East as it is broadcast on the Astra 1M, Eutelsat Hot Bird 13A, Eutelsat 10A, Badr 4, Turksat 2A, Thor 6, Nilesat 102, Hispasat 1C and Eutelsat 28A satellites. The Optus C1 satellite in Australia carries the channel for free and from July 2012 is available at no extra charge to all subscribers to Australia's Foxtel pay-TV service.

For availability info of the Al Jazeera network's other TV channels, see their respective articles. Segments of Al Jazeera English are uploaded to YouTube.[73]

Outside the United States, it is possible to watch Al Jazeera English over the internet from their official website. The low-resolution version is available free of charge,[74] while the high-resolution version is available under subscription fees through partner sites. In some countries that do not regularly offer Al Jazeera English through satellite or cable, the availability of internet video streaming receiver boxes, like those sold by Roku in the United States, offer the low-resolution stream without the use of a computer.[75]

Al Jazeera's English division has also partnered with Livestation for Internet-based broadcasting.[76] This enables viewers to watch Al Jazeera English, Al Jazeera America and Al Jazeera live worldwide with the exception of English and America in the United States.

Al Jazeera is available in Canada on Bell Channel 516, as part of the package "International News I." Al Jazeera is available on Rogers Cable individually. Al Jazeera is also available on Shaw Cable TV Channel 513, as part of the package "Multicultural" Free preview until 8 March 2011

On 7 December 2010, Al Jazeera said its English language service has got a downlink license to broadcast in India. Satellite and cable companies would therefore be allowed to broadcast Al Jazeera in the country.[77] The broadcaster will be launched soon on Dish TV, and is considering a Hindi-language channel.[78]

On the Web[edit]

Al Jazeera's web-based service is accessible subscription-free throughout the world, at a variety of websites.[79] The station launched an English-language edition of its online content in March 2003. This English language website was relaunched on 15 November 2006, along with the launch of Al Jazeera English. The English and Arabic sections are editorially distinct, with their own selection of news and comment. Al Jazeera and Al Jazeera English are streamed live on the official site,[80][81] as well as on YouTube.[82][83] On 13 April 2009, Al Jazeera launched condensed versions of its English and Arabic sites for mobile device users.

The Arabic version of the site was brought offline for about 10 hours by an FBI raid on its ISP, InfoCom Corporation, on 5 September 2001. InfoCom was later convicted of exporting to Syria and Gaddafi-ruled Libya, of knowingly being invested in by a Hamas member (both of which are illegal in the United States), and of underpaying customs duties.[84]

in 2014 Al Jazeera Media Network launched an online only channel called AJ+. The channel is based out of the former Current TV studios in San Francisco, California and has outposts in Doha, Kuala Lumpur and other locations. It is independent of all of Al Jazeera's other channels and is mostly in an on demand format. The channel launched on 13 June 2014 on with a preview on YouTube.

Creative Commons[edit]

On 13 January 2009, Al Jazeera released some of its broadcast quality footage from Gaza under a Creative Commons license. Contrary to business "All Rights Reserved" standards, the license invites third parties, including rival broadcasters, to reuse and remix the footage, so long as Al Jazeera is credited. The videos are hosted on blip.tv, which allows easy downloading and integration with Miro.[85][86][87][88][89][90][91]

Al Jazeera also offers over 2,000 Creative Commons-licensed still photos at their Flickr account.

Citizen journalism[edit]

Al Jazeera accepts user-submitted photos and videos about news events through a Your Media page, and this content may be featured on the website or in broadcasts.[92]

The channel used the Ushahidi platform to collect information and reports about the Gaza War, through Twitter, SMS and the website.[93][94]

Plans[edit]

Future projects in other languages include Al Jazeera Urdu, an Urdu language channel to cater mainly to Pakistanis and possibly some Indians.[95] A Kiswahili service called Al Jazeera Kiswahili was to be based in Nairobi and broadcast in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.[96] However, those plans were cancelled due to budget constraints.[97]

The channel also has plans to launch a Spanish-language news network to cater mainly to Spain and Hispanic America, like the Iranian cable TV network HispanTV. Al Jazeera has also been reported to be planning to launch an international newspaper.[98] Al Jazeera Arabic began using a chroma key studio on 13 September 2009. Similar to Sky News, Al Jazeera broadcast from that studio while the channel's main newsroom was given a new look. The channel relaunched, with new graphics and music along with a new studio, on 1 November 2009, the 13th birthday of the channel.

Controversies associated with Al Jazeera[edit]

Algeria[edit]

On 27 January 1999, several Algerian cities lost power simultaneously, reportedly to keep residents from watching a program in which Algerian dissidents implicated the Algerian military in a series of massacres.[37][38][41]

On 4 July 2004, the Algerian government froze the activities of Al Jazeera's Algerian correspondent. The official reason given was that a reorganization of the work of foreign correspondents was in progress. The international pressure group Reporters Without Borders says, however, that the measure was really taken in reprisal for a broadcast the previous week of another Al-Itijah al-Mouakiss debate on the political situation in Algeria.[99]

Bahrain[edit]

In May 2000, Bahrain banned Al Jazeera broadcast due to channel's comments about Bahrain's municipal elections, labelling it as "serving Zionism".[100]

China[edit]

In May 2012 Chinese authorities refused to renew Al Jazeera correspondent's press credentials and visa, or allow a replacement journalist. Al Jazeera consequently closed its bureau in Beijing.[101]

Egypt[edit]

During the 2011 Egyptian protests, on 30 January, the Egyptian government ordered the TV channel to close its offices. A day after, on 31 January, Egyptian security forces arrested six Al Jazeera journalists for several hours and seized their camera equipment. There were also reports of disruption in Al Jazeera Mubasher's Broadcast to Egypt.[102][103][104] The channel was also criticized for being sympathetic to Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood and it was closed for the same reasons in September 2013.[105]

In late June, 2014, three Al Jazeera English employees were sentenced to seven to ten year jail terms on "terrorism" charges for news reports deemed supportive of the banned Muslim Brotherhood. The sentences were applied after several court hearings took place featuring no evidence to back the government's claims[106] The three, Mohamed Fahmy, Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed, plan an appeal. There was international condemnation of the court proceedings from both governments and media, with the terms "chilling and draconian" used by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to describe the jail sentences.[107] Newly elected Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi however was unmoved, a day after the verdicts declaring his government would not intervene in judicial rulings.[108]

Iraq[edit]

The Iraqi interim government closed the offices of Al Jazeera in Baghdad in August 2004.[109] Then Iraqi prime minister Iyad Allawi accused the channel of "inciting hatred" in the country.[109] At the end of April 2013, the Iraqi government led by Nouri Al Maliki once again ordered to stop Al Jazeera broadcasting due to the alleged role of the channel in "encouraging the sectarian unrest".[110]

Israel[edit]

On 13 March 2008, Israel announced a "boycott" of the Arabic broadcaster al-Jazeera, accusing it of bias particularly during coverage of the conflict in the Gaza Strip and of slanted coverage favoring Hamas. Ministers will refuse to do interviews and according to some reports, will deny visa applications from its staff. Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Majali Wahbe accused the Qatari-owned station of prioritizing/focusing exclusively on Palestinian suffering, and ignoring Israeli suffering. "We have seen that Al-Jazeera has become part of Hamas . . . taking sides and cooperating with people who are enemies of the state of Israel," said Wahbe, a Druse Arab. "The moment a station like Al-Jazeera gives unreliable reports, represents only one side, and doesn't present the positions of the other side, why should we cooperate?", adding: "These reports are untrustworthy and they hurt us, and they arouse people to terrorist activities." Israeli officials backed their claim by saying al-Jazeera had covered the Gaza incursion but not the Palestinian rocket attacks against the Israeli city of Ashkelon. Wahabi said that the Israeli Foreign Ministry would send letters of complaint to the government of Qatar and Al Jazeera. Officials of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party also accuse al-Jazeera of being biased in favour of Hamas, with which it is at political loggerheads, and prominent Fatah official and former Gaza strongman Mohammed Dahlan has organized a lawsuit against the broadcaster.[111][112][113][114] Al-Jazeera eventually agreed to discuss coverage of Mideast conflict,[115] and the issue was apparently settled.

In February 2009, Israel again imposed sanctions on Al Jazeera after Qatar closed the Israeli trade office in Doha in protest to the Gaza War. Initially, Israel contemplated declaring Al Jazeera a hostile entity and shutting down its Israel offices, but after a legal review, the Israeli government decided instead to impose limited measures to restrict Al Jazeera's activities in the country. All Al Jazeera employees would not have their visas renewed, and the Israeli government would issue no new visas. Al Jazeera staff would also not be allowed to attend government briefings and reduced access to government and military offices or interview Knesset members. The station would only be allowed access to three official spokespersons: The Prime Minister's Office, the Foreign Ministry, and the IDF Spokesperson's Unit.[116]

In August 2011, Samer Allawi, Al Jazeera's Afghanistan bureau chief, was arrested by Israeli authorities on charges of being a member of Hamas. Walied Al-Omary, Al Jazeera's bureau chief in Israel and the Palestinian territories, said the military court accused Allawi of making contact with members of Hamas's armed wing.[117] A co-leader of The Committee to Protect Journalists said "Israel must clarify why it continues to hold Samer Allawi."[118][119] Allawi was held in prison over a month, he was charged $1400 fine after pleading guilty to having met with Hamas, a militant groups seen as a terrorist group by Israel and most of the West.[120][121][122][123][124][125][126]

Palestinian National Authority[edit]

On 15 July 2009, the Palestinian National Authority closed down Al Jazeera's offices in the West Bank, apparently in response to claims made on the channel by Farouk Kaddoumi that PA President Mahmoud Abbas had been involved in the death of Yasser Arafat. In a statement announcing the decision, the Palestinian Information Ministry said the station's coverage was "unbalanced" and accused it of incitement against the PLO and the PA.[127]

On 19 July 2009, President Abbas rescinded the ban and allowed Al Jazeera to resume operations.[128]

United States[edit]

On 13 November 2001, during the War in Afghanistan, a U.S. missile strike destroyed Al Jazeera's office in Kabul. There were no casualties.[129]

When Al Jazeera reported events featuring very graphic footage from inside Iraq, Al Jazeera was described as anti-American and as inciting violence because it reported on issues concerning national security.[130]

On 24 March 2003, two Al Jazeera reporters covering the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) had their credentials revoked.[131] The NYSE banned Al Jazeera (as well as several other news organizations whose identities were not revealed) from its trading floor indefinitely. NYSE spokesman Ray Pellechia said that it was due to "security reasons", and that the exchange had decided to give access only to networks that focus "on responsible business coverage". He denied the revocation had anything to do with the network's Iraq war coverage.[132][133] However, Robert Zito, the exchange's executive vice president for communications, indicated that Al Jazeera's graphic footage broadcast on 22 March 2003 led him to oust Al Jazeera.[131] The move was quickly mirrored by NASDAQ stock market officials.[134] The NYSE ban was rescinded a few months later.[135]

In addition, Akamai Technologies, a U.S. company whose founder was killed in the 11 September World Trade Center attack, canceled a contract to provide web services for Al Jazeera's English language website.[136][137]

Death of Tareq Ayyoub[edit]

Main article: Tareq Ayyoub

On 8 April 2003, Al Jazeera's office in Baghdad was hit by a missile, killing reporter Tareq Ayyoub and wounding another.[138] Al Jazeera reported that it had mailed coordinates for their office to the U.S. State Department six weeks earlier, and that these should have clearly identified their location.[139] Dima Tareq Tahboub, the widow of Tareq Ayyoub, continues as of 2003 to denounce her husband's death and has written for The Guardian and participated in a documentary broadcast on Al Jazeera English.[140]

On 30 January 2005, The New York Times reported that the Qatari government, under pressure from the Bush administration, was speeding up plans to sell the station.[141]

Al Jazeera bombing memo[edit]

Also see O'Connor - Keogh official secrets trial.

On 22 November 2005, the UK tabloid The Daily Mirror published a story claiming that it had obtained a leaked memo from 10 Downing Street saying that former U.S. President George W. Bush had considered bombing Al Jazeera's Doha headquarters in April 2004, when United States Marines were conducting a contentious assault on Fallujah.[142]

Website attacks[edit]

Immediately after its launch in 2003, the English site was attacked by one or several hackers, who launched denial-of-service attacks, and another hacker who redirected visitors to a site featuring an American flag.[143][144] Both events were widely reported as Al Jazeera's website having been attacked by "hackers".[145] In November 2003, John William Racine II, also known as 'John Buffo', was sentenced to 1,000 hours of community service and a $1,500 U.S. fine for the online disruption. Racine posed as an Al Jazeera employee to get a password to the network's site, then redirected visitors to a page he created that showed an American flag shaped like a U.S. map and a patriotic motto, court documents said.[146] In June 2003, Racine pleaded guilty to wire fraud and unlawful interception of an electronic communication.[147] As of 2012, the perpetrators of the denial-of-service attacks remain unknown.

Editorial independence[edit]

Al Jazeera is owned by the government of Qatar.[2][3][4][5][6][7] While Al Jazeera officials have stated that they are editorially independent from the government of Qatar,[148][149] this assertion has been disputed.[8] In 2010, United States Department of State internal communications, released by WikiLeaks as part of the 2010 diplomatic cables leak, claim that the Qatar government manipulates Al Jazeera coverage to suit political interests.[150][151]

In September 2012, The Guardian reported that Al Jazeera's editorial independence came into question when the channel's director of news, Salah Negm, stepped in at the last minute to order that a two minute video covering a UN debate over the Syrian civil war include a speech by the leader of Qatar, Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani.[8] Staff members protested that the speech was not the most important aspect of the debate, and that it was a repetition of previous calls for Arab intervention.[8]

The Guardian also claimed in September 2012 that Qatar has taken steps in recent years to consolidate control of Al Jazeera English.[8]

Criticism and controversy[edit]

While Al Jazeera has a large audience in the Middle East, the organization and the original Arabic channel in particular have taken criticism and been involved in several controversies.[152]

Egypt and Syria 2013[edit]

Twenty-two members of staff of Al Jazeera's Egyptian bureau announced their resignation on 8 July 2013, citing biased coverage of the ongoing Egyptian power redistribution in favour of the Muslim Brotherhood.[153][154][155] Al Jazeera claims that the resignations were done under pressure from the Egyptian Military. In January 2013 a former News Editor at Al Jazeera, who was from Syria, and had been at Al Jazeera for "nearly a decade" was fired without cause given, but in an interview stated their belief that it was linked to his/her resistance of ongoing strong pressure to conform to biased coverage of the Syrian civil war. The former Editor stated that the Muslim Brotherhood was "controlling the Syrian file at Al-Jazeera" with both organizations biasing news coverage in favour of the Brotherhood ousting the Syrian government of Assad by force and warning the then-editor "the majority [in Syria] is with the Muslim Brotherhood and [taking power] is within our grasp" so "thank your god if you get a pardon when we become the government." The source named the names of several other former employees who resigned in protest, including director of the Berlin bureau Aktham Sleiman, a Syrian, "who was, at the beginning, with the [Syrian] opposition" but resisted what the interviewee terms the "lies and despicable [political and ethnic] sectarianism" and concluded that "Al-Jazeera has lied and is still lying" about Syria and in favour of armed overthrow and of the Muslim Brotherhood.[156][157]

In August, 2013, Memri translated an 17 August 2013 clip from Al Jazeera, in which Gamal Nasser, a former Muslim Brotherhood official and Al Jazeera commentator, said that General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is "of Jewish origin" and "implementing a Zionist plan to divide Egypt".[158][159]

Documentaries[edit]

Awards and accolades[edit]

  • 1999 Prince Claus Award for "Creating Spaces of Freedom", in Amsterdam
  • In December 1999, Ibn Rushd (Averroes) Fund for Freedom of Thought in Berlin awarded the "Ibn Rushd Award" for media and journalism for the year to Al Jazeera.[163]
  • In March 2003, Al Jazeera was awarded by Index on Censorship for its "courage in circumventing censorship and contributing to the free exchange of information in the Arab world."[164]
  • In April 2004, the Webby Awards nominated Al Jazeera as one of the five best news Web sites, along with BBC News, National Geographic, RocketNews and The Smoking Gun. According to Tiffany Shlain, the founder of the Webby Awards, this caused a controversy as [other media organisations] "felt it was a risk-taking site".[165]
  • In 2004, Al Jazeera was voted by brandchannel.com readers as the fifth most influential global brand behind Apple Computer, Google, Ikea and Starbucks.[166]
  • During the 2011 Egyptian protests, the online magazine Salon.com wrote that "Al Jazeera's Egypt coverage embarrasses U.S. cable news channels.",[167] and WikiLeaks commented on their Twitter feed that "Yes, we may have helped Tunisia, Egypt. But let us not forget the elephant in the room: Al Jazeera + sat dishes".[168]
  • On 4 March 2011, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Al Jazeera provided more news coverage than the opinion-driven coverage of American mass media.[169] Most American media outlets declined comment. Michael Clemente of Fox News called the comments "curious", while not directly refuting them. Secretary Clinton's remarks contrast dramatically to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's complaints of bias early in the previous decade.[170] However, Rumsfeld apparently changed his opinion and expressed in 2011 that he was "delighted" by Al Jazeera English.[171]

Competitors[edit]

  • Al Mayadeen is a pan-Arabist satellite television channel launched on 11 June 2012 in Lebanon. The channel, claims Gulf-supported media, aims at reducing the influence of the Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya networks, both funded by oil-rich Sunni Arab countries in the Persian Gulf. However, it is said to plan to present an alternative to mainstream Arab satellite media, largely dominated by these two channels.
  • In response to Al Jazeera, a group of Saudi investors created Al Arabiya in the first quarter of 2003. Despite (especially initial) skepticism over the station's Saudi funding (cf. History) and a perception of censorship of anti-Saudi content,[172] Al Arabiya has successfully emulated Al Jazeera, garnered a significant audience share, and has also become involved in controversy – Al Arabiya has been severely criticised by the Iraqi and US authorities and has had journalists killed on the job.[173][174]
  • In order to counter a perceived bias of Al Jazeera, the U.S. government in 2004 founded Al Hurra ("the free one"). Al Hurra is forbidden to broadcast to the US under the provisions of the Smith–Mundt Act. A Zogby poll found that 1% of Arab viewers watch Al Hurra as their first choice.[175] while an Ipsos-MENA poll from March–May 2008 showed that Al Hurra was drawing more viewers in Iraq than Al Jazeera.[176] Citing these figures, Alvin Snyder, author and former USIA executive, referred to Al Hurra as a "go to" network in Iraq.[177]
  • A further competitor is the Rusiya Al-Yaum channel – the first Russian TV news channel broadcasting in Arabic and headquartered in Moscow, Russia. Rusiya Al-Yaum started broadcasting on 4 May 2007. The Channel is established and operated by RIA Novosti, the same news agency that launched Russia Today TV in December 2005 to deliver a Russian perspective on news to English-speaking audiences, and "Rusiya Al-Yaum" is indeed a translation of "Russia Today" into Arabic.
  • The BBC launched BBC Arabic Television on 11 March 2008, an Arabic-language news channel in North Africa and the Middle East.[178] This is the second time that the BBC has launched an Arabic language TV channel; as mentioned above, the demise of the original BBC World Service Arabic TV channel had at least contributed to the founding of the original Al Jazeera Arabic TV channel.
  • Deutsche Welle began broadcasting in Arabic in 2002. On 12 September 2011, the German international broadcaster launched DW (Arabia), its Arabic language television channel for North Africa and the Middle East.[179] The network has expanded from an initial two-hour block to 16 hours of daily programming in Arabic starting March 2014. The schedule is completed with 8 hours of English language programming. In February 2014, DW (Arabia) announced the acquisition of reprise transmission rights of Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef's popular show AlBernameg.[180]
  • When Euronews started broadcasting its programs in Arabic on 12 July 2008, it entered into competition with Al Jazeera. Arabic is the eighth language in which Euronews is broadcast, after English, French, German, Russian, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese.

Network[edit]

Al Jazeera media network operates a number of specialty channels besides its original flagship news channel.

Al Jazeera network's TV channels include:[181]

Launched in Website
Al Jazeera the original international Arabic-language 24h news channel 1 November 1996 aljazeera.net/channel
beIN Sport / beIN Sports Arabia originally a popular Arabic-language sports channel, Now in several languages and regions 2003 and 2012 beinsports.net
beIN Sports Arabia +1 2004
beIN Sports Arabia +2 2004
beIN Sports Arabia +3 2008
beIN Sports Arabia +4 2008
beIN Sports Arabia +5 August 2009
beIN Sports Arabia +6 August 2009
beIN Sports Arabia +7 August 2009
beIN Sports Arabia +8 August 2009
beIN Sports Arabia HD
beIN Sports 24 Hour Sports News Channel (several languages)
beIN Sport In France, United States, Indonesia and Russia. 2012 http://www.beinsport.fr, http://www.beinsport.tv
beIN Sports Canada 2014 http://www.beinsportsplay.tv/
Al Jazeera Mubasher (a.k.a. Al Jazeera Live) a live politics and public interest channel (similar to C-SPAN, Houses of the Oireachtas Channel or BBC Parliament), which broadcasts conferences in real time without editing or commentary 2005 mubasher.aljazeera.net
Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr a version of Al Jazeera Mubasher focused on Egypt 2011 mubasher-misr.aljazeera.net
JeemTV a children's interest channel 2013 jeemtv.net
Al Jazeera English a global English-language 24h news channel 2006 aljazeera.com
Al Jazeera Documentary Channel an Arabic language documentary channel 2007 doc.aljazeera.net
Al Jazeera Balkans a version of Al Jazeera in the Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian language(s) stationed in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina catering to and broadcasting around the Balkans 2011 balkans.aljazeera.com
Al Jazeera America a version of Al Jazeera that is based in and completely operated out of the United States, airing domestic and international news. 2013 america.aljazeera.com
Pending Channels Description and Region Year Website
Al Jazeera Türk a version of Al Jazeera that will be in the Turkish language(s) stationed in Istanbul catering to and broadcasting around Turkey. Currently online only. 2014 (Under construction) aljazeera.com.tr
Al Jazeera Kiswahili Kiswahili version of Al Jazeera to be based in East Africa. (Under construction) aljazeerakiswahili.com
Other entities Description Year Website
AJ+ English language digital online only news channel based primarily on YouTube 2014 ajplus.net
Al Jazeera Training Center an Arabic language, Graphics and Media Training Center 2004 training.aljazeera.net
Al Jazeera Center for Studies A Think Tank that conducts research and in depth analysis of current affairs at both regional and global levels 2006 studies.aljazeera.net

See also[edit]

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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]