Al-Jazeera To Conquer Western Viewers

Probably, Al-Jazeera will become a lot more popular than CNN

Arabian satellite channel Al-Jazeera is intended to offer its programs to the Western audience. This channel is still called the “Arabic CNN”. Arabic journalists liked that at first. Now they feel that they can compete with their foreign colleagues. Al-Jazeera has very big plans. The company is going to translate some of its programs in the English language, to launch the English version of its website in February. Al-Jazeera is going to start broadcasting its programs in English at the end of the current or in the beginning of the next year. Probably, this will be the time when CNN will be defeated completely. The American company became very famous after the previous war with Iraq. However, Al-Jazeera reporters know the Arab world better. They can provide a better coverage of events in the region, which attracts attention of the whole world at the moment.

Al-Jazeera’s position is as follows: Western media outlets report their news from the Western point of view, while the Arab company does that from the Arab point of view. As it turned out, not only Arabs were interested in knowing that. A lot of TV viewers in Western countries would like to know more about it as well. It is interesting that the state television company of South Africa turns CNN on at the end of its working day. Now South African television employees think over a possibility to replace CNN with Al-Jazeera.

Al-Jazeera is based in Qatar, not far from an American army base. The Arab television company extends the personnel of its department in Washington. The company strongly believes that a lot of things depend on the events that take place in the United States. However, Al-Jazeera provides the coverage on the ground of another angle, from the Arabic point of view. As the management of the company says, they want to provide their Arabic viewers (and English ones in the future)  with the most precise information from the most controversial region of the planet.

Al-Jazeera gained such popularity with the help of Bin Laden’s appearances on television and radio. He appears on the Arabic channel with his addresses to Al-Qaida and to the whole world. This is the major factor to explain the company’s popularity. America comes second with its preparation of the war in Iraq and with its war in Afghanistan. Bin Laden’s each appearance on Al-Jazeera  television provokes a lot of discussions. People try to guess, if it was the real Bin Laden on their TV screen, and if it was, then where he was hiding. Some people say that the Arabic television company is funded by Osama Bin Laden, since it became his link to the outer world.

It is rather surprising, but Al-Jazeera gets reproaches from the other side too. The leaders of the Arab countries are not happy with the fact that the channel reports about the things, which were considered to be tabooed subjects before. Jordan shut down its department in the summer of the last year. The government of the country did not like the fact that the channel portrayed Jordanian top officials  as USA and Israel’s puppets. The same thing happened in Kuwait. Some other Arab countries are not happy with Al-Jazeera’s reports either. The company was not allowed to open its division in Saudi Arabia. Bahrain did not allow Al-Jazeera reporters to enter the country at all. Bahrain’s Information Minister Nabeel al-Hamer claimed that Al-Jazeera  presented the Israeli point of view in the region. The minister added that his country would not have anything in common with the company, because Bahrain had its own objections concerning Al-Jazeera’s reports. The minister concluded that Zionists made their way to the channel.

Some Arab leaders do not like that the channel keeps reporting on their strong ties with the United States. They state that the Qatar government uses the company to avoid casting such a suspicion upon itself.  Yet, the government of Qatar claims that the company is free to prepare its reports and programs. However, no one has heard Al-Jazeera criticizing the Qatar government yet. They say that 35% of the company’s stocks belong to Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheik Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr Al Thani. This man is Qatar ruler’s cousin. By the way, the ruler of the country supported Al-Jazeera with a special loan of $137 million. They acknowledge it  in Qatar that Al-Jazeera causes troubles to a lot of people. However, they are not going to shut it down. The company has already become the inseparable part of Qatar’s image. The government of this country promotes a liberal approach with conservative thinking. Now Al-Jazeera is going to conquer the West.

Sergey Borisov

Translated by Dmitry Sudakov

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Author`s name Olga Savka