Al-Jazeera America network debuts
Aug 20, 2013 / 9:00 pm
Al-Jazeera America signed on with a brisk hello from anchor Tony Harris before he got down to business with his network's first stories: continued turmoil in Egypt, shots fired at an Atlanta elementary school and more wildfires in the West.
With that, the network entered the cable news fray long dominated by CNN, MSNBC and Fox News Channel.
The Qatar-based Al-Jazeera Media Network launched its U.S. outlet only eight months after announcing the new venture, which replaced Al Gore's Current TV in more than 45 million TV homes Tuesday.
An hour before settling into its regular schedule at 4 p.m. Eastern time, the network aired a prerecorded preview of its programming and goals.
"We are here to tell the story the way it happens, as it happens," anchor Antonio Mora said as the preview began.
At the same time, the Al-Jazeera English network was suspended. It had been available since 2006 online and in a scattering of cable systems.
Headquartered in New York, Al-Jazeera America has vowed to provide unbiased, in-depth domestic and global news. It aims to strike a contrast to the "news talk" often favoured by its Big Three competitors. (Its promotional tagline: "There's more to it.")
It has hired a number of veterans of U.S. television, including Harris, a CNN alum, and Mora, previously at ABC News. Other familiar faces include Sheila MacVicar (formerly of CBS News), Soledad O'Brien (NBC News and CNN), Joie Chen (CNN and CBS News) and John Seigenthaler (NBC News).
Scheduled programs include a nightly newscast anchored by Seigenthaler; "Consider This," a current-affairs hour hosted by Mora; "America Tonight," a newsmagazine described as the network's flagship telecast anchored by Chen; and "Real Money" with former CNN business correspondent Ali Velshi.
Besides New York, domestic bureaus are in Washington, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, Detroit, Chicago, Denver, Miami, Seattle, New Orleans and Nashville, Tenn.
The new network also will draw from the 70 bureaus parent Al-Jazeera operates globally.
Al-Jazeera Media claimed an instant U.S. foothold with its $500 million purchase of Current TV and the cable distribution of that little-watched network. Al-Jazeera America also is available from satellite providers DirecTV and Dish Network.
The breakneck pace of getting the network on the air rivals that of Fox News Channel, which was announced in November 1995 and signed on the following October. MSNBC had launched three months earlier. Before that, CNN, which pioneered the cable news format with its debut in 1980, had the field to itself.
Thanks to the deep pockets of its parent, Al-Jazeera America commands considerable resources with no urgent need to turn a profit, as evidenced by a stated policy to air just six minutes of commercials each hour, less than half the usual time devoted to advertising by most commercial networks.
But the channel also has challenges ahead. It will have to win over viewers to the serious newscasting it promises to deliver and overcome suspicion some Americans may feel for a news organization controlled by a foreign government or even see as anti-American.
Meanwhile, the network wasted no time demonstrating it will jump on hot-button issues, and make certain assumptions, that might turn off a portion of the public.
At 5 p.m. Eastern, on the first "Inside Story" discussion program, host Libby Casey, formerly of C-SPAN, led a thoughtful half-hour with a trio of experts exploring the threat of climate change to the U.S. No one present said its dangers don't exist.
Read more Business News
|QHR Technologies Inc||1.17||-0.03|
|Anavex Life Sciences||0.33||-0.04|
|Copper Mountain Mining||1.58||+0.02|
This column is the last of three, for how to prove your personal injury claim. It is the piece de resistance of the trilogy, the Chuck Norris piece – the final say! As mentioned in the first two...
Recently I recorded a video series for my keynote speaking business. It was called from Faith to Future. In one of the episodes, I talked about the concept of using hard work to get out of a difficul...
The bank manager just phoned and asked for full and immediate repayment of the line of credit because the latest, (and they were late!), financial statements showed continuing losses and falling sales...
- European air and defence company EADS to cut 5,800 jobs as part of major overhaul
- Lululemon Athletica names Laurent Potdevin as CEO, replacing Christine Day
- Your guide to the 2013 Nobels in literature, chemistry, physics, medicine, peace and economics
- Calgary's Equal Energy to be acquired by Petroflow in US$230M deal
- Canadian TV rights deal approval, salary cap on tap for NHL board of governors
- Quebec revenue agency wants $750 million in fines for alleged gold fraud
- Markets set to rise on string of economic data amid concerns over Fed stimulus
- Greek lawmakers pass 2014 budget that forecasts return to growth
- Senate proposal: open Mexico's state-run oil sector to private companies
- Expert tells jury Warhol portrait of Fawcett at centre of dispute is worth $12 million
- Newfoundland premier will announce financing for $7.7B hydro project: sources
- Judge orders Colo. cake-maker to serve gay couples for wedding celebrations