Global media widely reported that the English language channel Al Jazeera was launched on July 2 in the Washington D.C. area representing the station’s first entry into a major U.S. commercial market. According to a report carried on a Lebanese Mideast news portal:
The English-language cousin of the Qatar based news channel Al Jazeera launched yesterday in the Washington D.C. area after signing its first major U.S. cable deal with non-commercial MHz Networks last week. The MHz deal means 2.3 million subscribers will now have access to the channel, adding to the 140 million households currently receiving Al Jazeera English worldwide. Al Jazeera English is available in 40 countries, including Israel, but it’s the first time Al Jazeera English (AJE) has entered such a large US market, generally acknowledged as the world’s most important English-language cable market. Previously, AJE had been available only in two U.S. markets – Burlington, Vermont and Toledo, Ohio, and cable networks in the U.S. had historically refused to carry the channel because of its association with Al Jazeera’s Arabic language news channel. High ranking members of George W. Bush’s administration, namely vice president Dick Cheney consistently accused Al Jazeera’s Arabic channel of “inciting terrorism,” calling it the “mouthpiece of Osama Bin Laden” because of its readiness to broadcast Bin Laden videos and audio tapes. But Al Jazeera’s director general, Wadah Khanfar, told Arabian Business that a more “benevolent political climate” had lessened the concerns of cable providers. “I think the atmosphere is changing now. We have negotiations taking place with many cable companies in the United States and Canada and I hope that very soon we are going to hear a lot of good news,” he told the website. “Starting now, we will have a growing audience in the United States.”…… In his interview with Arabian Business(dot)com, Al Jazeera’s Khanfar said Al Jazeera’s network was interested in breaking into the New York City market as a next step.
An earlier post detailed the Muslim Brotherhood and possibly Hamas background of Al Jazeera’s director general, Wadah Khanfar as well as the influence of the Brotherhood at the station in general.