Al Jazeera America will be available to nearly half of America’s 100 million television subscribers from today (20th August) when it takes over Current TV’s distribution network, which it acquired in January for $500 million.
However, American cable companies have been reluctant to include Al Jazeera in their television packages, because of what some commentators call an “anti-American” bias. Marwan Bishara, one of the network’s most prominent journalists, voiced fears that the network will sacrifice its bold approach to assuage these criticisms in an extensive email sent to company executives in June.
Ehab Al Shihabi, interim chief executive of Al Jazeera America, told the NYT: “there will be less opinion, less yelling and fewer celebrity sightings… we are not infotainment. We are in-depth and informative.”
With14 hours of live US and international news programming daily, and up to 900 journalists based in 12 US cities, it will go head-to-head with CNN, Fox News and MSNBC. Al Jazeera America will allocate less airtime to commercials – around 6 minutes and hour – than the 15 minutes by other US news networks.