Al-Jazeera, the Qatar-based television news station is planning to target the English language market for the first time. The station wants to reach millions more viewers in the West, The Times reported Friday.
In the first quarter of 2003, the Arabic station will start dubbing its news, commentaries and current affairs programs into English for non-Arabic speakers. The English version of al-Jazeera will be available across Europe and will enable non-Arabic speaking viewers to monitor world events from a Middle Eastern perspective.
“First we will do the dubbing. Then, based on the feedback we get from the audience in the West, we have a plan to do an English language channel,” Ali Mohammad Kamal, marketing director of al-Jazeera, said, according to the newspaper.
Muslim groups in Britain were divided about the move. Adnan Masood, of the UK Islamic Mission, a charity for British Muslims, said: “I will watch it and I think Muslim families around Britain will tune in regularly. “I think it will be something good for Muslims. It will give a better perspective. The rest of the media cannot cover it as well as al-Jazeera can because they are there.”
But others were less sure. Avtar Lit, head of the London-based Sunrise Radio, the largest Asian radio station in the world, said: “The Muslim element of the Asian community may be interested in what al-Jazeera has to say, but I doubt whether the bulk of the community will be that interested. “Apart from during major conflicts, on a day-to-day basis I don’t think the Asian community will make it their No 1 channel.
“People of Arab extract in Britain will want to tune in. There will be a section of the community interested in news from a Muslim perspective. “The Muslim element of the Asian community always feels as though the Western media is pro-America and pro-Britain and I suppose they will welome it. They will want to hear another perspective to see if there is any difference, but I think news is news.” (Albawaba.com)