Al Jazeera International (AJI), the English language version of the Arabic channel, goes live on November 15. Nigel Parsons, Al Jazeera’s International’s MD said its initially planned November 1 launch was put back a few days because of technical glitches, although earlier launch dates of April, June and September were missed with reports of low morale at the station, writes Chris Forrester.
The November 15 timing is not accidental, given that its ‘parent’ Arabic service launched on the same date 10 years ago. (November 15 1996). AJI will launch at noon (GMT London) from its Doha headquarters and then following the sun around the planet with segments from London, Washington and Kuala Lumpur. Al Jazeera’s pre-launch promo reel makes much of its new facilities including Grass Valley’s HDTV cameras. All AJI’s studio-based output is captured in high definition, although transmissions in most markets will be in standard definition for the time being.
Wadah Khanfar, head of the Al Jazeera Network said: “We are extremely proud of what Al Jazeera has achieved over the past ten years. [We] will build on the pioneering spirit of Al Jazeera and will carry our media model, based in the South, to the entire world, reaching out to a new audience that is used to hearing the name of ‘Al Jazeera’ without being able to watch it or to understand its language.”
AJI has hired many high-profile faces including Sir David Frost and Riz Khan (a former headliner at CNN). Khan’s ‘One-on-One’ interview line-up promises Sir Bob Geldof, veteran US journalist Mike Wallace, Bollywood actress Mallika Sherawat and former First Lady of Egypt Jehan Sedat.