Following American pressure, a senior Qatari official said that the government is accelerating plans to put Al Jazeera TV on the market. Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and other Bush administration officials have complained heatedly to Qatari leaders that Al Jazeera's broadcasts have been inflammatory, misleading and occasionally false, especially on Iraq.
"We have recently added new members to the Al Jazeera editorial board, and one of their tasks is to explore the best way to sell it," the Qatari official was quoted as saying Sunday by The New York Times. "We really have a headache, not just from the United States but from advertisers and from other countries as well." Asked if the sale might dilute Al Jazeera's content, the official said, "I hope not."
Estimates of Al Jazeera's audience range from 30 million to 50 million. This success does not translate into profitability, and the station relies on a big subsidy from the Qatari government, which in the past has explored ways to sell it. The official said Qatar hoped to find a buyer within a year.