Jazeera, al-

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Arab satellite television based in Qatar.

Al-Jazeera is a pan-Arab satellite television station founded in 1996, shortly after the failure of the Arabic British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) experiment, with funding from the amir of Qatar. On 1 November 1996, al-Jazeera started broadcasting six hours a day. It expanded to twelve hours in 1999, and to twenty-four hours in 2001. In 2003 it had 500 employees, twenty-seven bureaus worldwide, and 35 million viewers. Only 40 percent of its revenue comes from advertising; the rest comes from selling programs, footage, and other services. AlJazeera is a leader in providing news. Its self-proclaimed ethic is "independence, objectivity, and freedom of expression." In 1999 it won the Ibn Rushd Prize for Freedom of Thought. Al-Jazeera's independent programming has angered many Arab governments, especially its news, commentary, and call-in and debate shows such as "The Opposing View" that are critical of Arab regimes.

Al-Jazeera scooped all competition, including Cable News Network and BBC, with exclusive interviews and videos of the bombing of Kabul in October 2001. During the war on Iraq in 2003, al-Jazeera angered the U.S. government by airing pictures of U.S. prisoners of war as well as reports critical of the occupation. Its web site occasionally has been hacked. Al-Jazeera is both praised and vilified. Arab viewers clamor for al-Jazeera when governments shut down its signal, while critics denounce it as a "sinister salad of sex, religion and politics, topped with sensationalist seasoning." With its commanding viewer following, however, alJazeera has become a major media player in the Arab region.


Zednik, Rick. "Perspectives on War: Inside Al Jazeera." Columbia Journalism Review, March/April 2002. Available from <http://www.cjr.org/year/02/2/zednik.asp>.

les ordeman
updated by karim hamdy