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Al-Jazeera launches English channel

Al-Jazeera launches English channel

Al-Jazeera launched an English news channel aimed at bringing the Arab take on the news to the rest of the world.

Dubai: Ten years after it started broadcasts that shook up Arab and American leaders, al-Jazeera on Wednesday launched an English-language news channel aimed at bringing the Arab take on the news to the rest of the world.

Al-Jazeera English is available in more than 80 million homes, but so far has no major US distribution, leaving viewers there unable to watch a channel branded by some as biased against the United States.

The station hit the airwaves at 1730 hrs IST, broadcasting from its headquarters in Doha, capital of the Persian Gulf state of Qatar.

A screen graphic with a clock ticking down the minutes to air gave way to a photo montage of the biggest news stories of the past decade and an announcer saying the new channel would be "setting the news agenda."

"It's November 15, a new era in television news," anchor Sami Zeidan said, speaking in front of a flashy newsroom backdrop.

The channel quickly jumped to live feeds from correspondents in various regions, starting with the Gaza Strip in a spot that reflected the channel's promise to Arab concerns in the Middle East.

The station reported on a rocket attack earlier today by Palestinian militants that killed an Israeli woman, then cut to its Gaza correspondent reporting on the aftermath of Israel's shelling of the Gaza town of Beit Hanoun that killed18 Palestinians earlier this week.

The footage showed pancaked apartment blocks and a scarred baby lying a hospital bed after being wounded in the Israeli attack. The correspondent did her standup in front of a destroyed home.

It was followed by a clip from an exclusive interview with Hamas leader Khaled Mishaal.
first published:November 16, 2006, 01:51 IST