Al-Jazeera plans operations from Canada

February 18th, 2009 - 1:41 pm ICT by IANS  

Toronto, Feb 18 (IANS) Qatar-based Al-Jazeera television network has announced plans to enter North America by seeking permission to start its English channel from Canada.
According to Tony Burman, managing director of Al-Jazeera English, the news channel will apply to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission for permission to start operations by autumn.

The Canadian regulatory body will process the application in a month’s time and then throw the issue before the public to comment.

But considering the distrust with which the Arabic channel is viewed in the western world because of its coverage of 9/11 and events after it, Canadians may not favour its operations from their soil.

In fact, Al-Jazeera Arabic, which was given a licence to operate from Canada in 2003, opted out because of strict conditions for cable companies to carry its programmes.

But the channel managing director said here Tuesday that there was a huge demand for English Al-Jazeera because of its exclusive coverage of the recent Gaza conflict. With 69 news bureaus, he said, Al-Jazeera had bigger news operations than even CNN and BBC.

Since the channel was one the biggest sources of diverse news from Asia, Africa and Latin America, it was watched in more than 100 countries, Burman said.

He tried to distinguish the English channel - started in 2006 - from Al-Jazeera Arabic channel which is known for carrying videos and messages from Al-Qaeda and other militant groups against the western world.

“There’s a debate about Al-Jazeera Arabic. I think the accusations directed to it are nonsense, but it’s a bit of a side issue,” he said.

Referring to three British media outlets owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., he said: “If you look at the Times of London, you don’t focus on Sky News or the Sun newspaper to assess whether or not you like the Times of London.”

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