Al Jazeera International works to get distribution in place ahead of early '06 launch

MUMBAI: They say the younger one generally has it easier. One can't say whether that will be the case for Al Jazeera International, the soon to launch English sibling of the Qatar-based Arabic channel that has had such a huge global impact since its arrival less than a decade ago. But what is certain is that every possible effort is being made to ensure a smooth take-off in March 2006 for a channel that has in its target sights the likes of BBC and CNN.

And a key factor in that smooth take-off would be to what extent the channel manages distribution and carriage deals by launch day in March. For Al Jazeera International's commercial director Lindsey Oliver (formerly general counsel and network director of CNBC Europe), the toughest challenge will likely come in getting deals in place in the US. Whether it be big DTH operators like DirecTV and Echostar or cable giants like Comcast and Cox, getting carriage for the sister channel of one that US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and others have riled against as "consistently lying" and "working in concert with terrorists" will be no mean task.

Oliver told during a media briefing at the recently concluded Mipcom 2005 in Cannes that "discussions are on across all the major English speaking regions" to sew up deals ahead of Al Jazeera International's March launch. Oliver, however, could not provide any inputs on whether any carriage deals were yet in place. If Oliver does manage to cross what still remains a big hurdle, there are few who doubt that the channel will find a ready audience.

One striking aspect of Al Jazeera's new English language initiative is that the core team is made up mostly of personnel drawn for the BBC and ITV. Which harks back to the circumstances that led to the formation of the Arabic channel. Al Jazeera came into being from capital provided by the emir of Qatar in April 1996 following a decision by the BBC to shut the World Service's Arabic television station. The 250 journalists who would have been rendered jobless by the decision moved en masse to Al Jazeera and the rest as they say is history.

There is a huge irony in the BBC's confirmation yesterday that it is dismantling 10 of its World Service radio services (mostly operating out of East Europe) and redirecting its resources to launch, what else but, an Arabic-language television station to take on Al Jazeera. A further irony is that the BBC's Arabic channel is already facing credibility issues of its own with critics accusing it of being a part of an American co-ordinated propaganda drive.

That is of course a separate story. As regards Al Jazeera International, it will headquartered in Doha, Qatar with three more broadcasting centres strategically placed across the world in Kuala Lumpur, London, and Washington D.C. and dozens of news bureaux worldwide.

That the proposition has convinced many was well highlighted by the signing up of Sir David Frost - who has interviewed seven US presidents and six British prime ministers - as its big-name presenter. Indian viewer's will meanwhile, remember Riz Khan, who is also a high profile face on the channel, earlier with CNN.

News presenter Hassan Ibrahim told that the channel's strength is that it is multicultural, free, and hard-hitting. "It will give respect back to the camera. What the camera sees is what we (will) report," said Ibrahim.

Said programme director Paul Gibbs, "There is the younger demographic and an older demographic that forms our TG."

One key differentiator the channel hopes to leverage is its strong slate of features driven programmes, for which Gibbs said a whole lot of outsourcing is being done. Gibbs revealed that an extranet site would be up in the coming weeks where interested producers could pitch their programming proposals.

Summing up, Gibbs said that "our multicultural staff will provide the glue and open mindedness will be our credo."

Latest Reads
World television premiere of Maragadha Naanayam on Zee Tamil

Zee Tamil announced the world television premiere of critically acclaimed Maragadha Naanayam – the fantasy-comedy-thriller film that features Aadhi Pinisetty and Nikki Galrani on Sunday, 17 December at 4:00 PM only on Zee Tamil. Written and directed by ARK Saravan, the movie is a perfect blend of...

Television TV Channels Regional
Republic TV to track real-time data for Gujarat elections

MUMBAI: Republic TV has partnered data-science company Gramener to track real-time data, along with analysis, during the Gujarat elections. According to a release sent by Republic TV, “Gramener will help enhance the visual look both on-air and on Republic’s digital platforms to present the data in...

Television TV Channels News Broadcasting
Nakul Chopra is new BARC chairman

MUMBAI: Nakul Chopra, currently president of Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) and senior advisor of Publicis Communications, has been elected as the next chairman of BARC India. Chopra succeeds Viacom18 group CEO Sudhanshu Vats, who has completed his one-year tenure as chairman.

Television TV Channels Viewership
Nitin Kukreja joins iQuest

Former Star India sports head Nitin Kukreja has joined iQuest Enterprises as its chief executive officer. Kukreja had left Star in March this year. IQuest is an enterprise of Nimmagadda Prasad, the former owner of the Maa TV group, who has multiple business interests ranging from infrastructure to...

Television TV Channels Sports
Sun TV's unassailable lead continues, while Zee TV leads Hindi across genre

BENGALURU: The Sun network's flagship Tamil general entertainment channel (GEC) Sun TV continued its lead in ratings across all GECs on Indian television for week 48 of 2017 (25 November to 1 December 2017) according to Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) weekly ratings data

Television TV Channels GECs
Republic TV, BTVI join hands for budget coverage

MUMBAI: Republic TV, spearheaded by Arnab Goswami, and Business Television India (BTVI) have entered into an alliance for content and programming around Union Budget 2018. The Republic TV- BTVI alliance promises to offer viewers a distinctive experience.

Television TV Channels News Broadcasting
Mairu Gupta and the art of building the NBA in India

MUMBAI: For basketball fans worldwide, the US National Basketball Association (NBA) represents the mecca of the sport. But in India, the NBA has had its task cut out, what with cricket presenting a near impenetrable line of defence.

Television TV Channels Sports
CNN-News18 'Indian of the year' 2017 special Telecast on 9 and 10 December

MUMBAI: The awards night of the annual and flagship initiative of CNN-News18, ‘Indian of the Year – 2017’ will be telecasted on the 9 and 10 of December at 9:30 PM on the channel. The initiative, whichrecognizes and awards the exceptional contribution and achievements of the iconic Indian citizens...

Television TV Channels News Broadcasting
Music channels bet on shows to boost viewership

MUMBAI: Seems like music channels are playing second fiddle to online music platforms when it comes to playing tracks. In an attempt to grab more eyeballs, pure-play music channels on television are moving away from the music content and focusing more on the youth-centric shows.

Television TV Channels Music and Youth

Latest News

Load More

Sign up for our Newsletter

subscribe for latest stories