Move over, CNN. Al Jazeera wants your lunch. In late spring, the Qatar-based broadcaster will launch Al Jazeera International, an English-language news and current-affairs channel with broadcast centers on four continents. It’s not the Arabic-language channel the Bush administration was reportedly itching to blow up until Tony Blair intervened, but both networks are funded–lavishly–by the emir of Qatar.
Al Jazeera International’s news cycle will literally track the sun, with Doha broadcasting for its prime-time segment, followed by London, Washington, DC, and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Unlike CNN, which broadcasts localized programming to various regions, Al Jazeera International will produce one newscast, filtered through the lens of whichever news desk is on air. It has already hired Dave Marash from ABC; Mark Seddon of the Guardian; and Josh Rushing, a press officer at Centcom during the Iraq War.
As the channel’s commercial director, Lindsey Oliver is responsible for striking deals with distributors around the globe. Previously, Oliver, a gregarious Brit, built CNBC into a European powerhouse, expanding its audience by 11 million households in one year. With the channel a few months from launch, Oliver had yet to strike a U.S. distribution deal for Al Jazeera International. But she has plenty of others: “I aim to reach 30 million to 40 million households on day one,” she says. “That’s looking very good.”FCS