Al Jazeera English expects to launch in India by 2009

NEW DELHI: Al Jazeera is awaiting downlink clearance from the government and expects to enter the Indian market by early 2009.

?We had a meeting yesterday with the information and broadcasting ministry and cleared out certain apprehensions they had about the association of Al Jazeera Arabic with the English Channel. We had applied for clearance some time back and are now hopeful that we would be able to start operations in India by early 2009,? says Al Jazeera English managing director Tony Burman.

The Middle East-based news channel has a picture sharing arrangement with India TV news, adds Burman.

After getting the clearance, Al Jazeera will consider partnering with an Indian broadcaster. ?Since India is a huge country and we have just one member team here, we may partner with a few local broadcasters or even the public broadcaster,? says Burman.

The channel gained popularity when it aired popular terrorist Osama Bin Laden?s tapes.

Clearing the air, Burman explains: ?It would be unfair to say that Al Jazeera is the easily accessible channel for terrorist groups. Osama Bin Laden?s tapes were aired by CBC, BBC and CNN as well. The fact is that in Middle East Al Jazzera has earned a reputation and Laden wanted to reach out to people through our popular medium. So the tapes were sent to us. In fact, there are many tapes that we have not aired. However, at the same time Al Jazeera English is not responsible for Al Jazeera Arabic?s content. We have a separate team and operate on our own.?

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