[R-G] Al-Jazeera English gets CRTC approval

Sid Shniad shniad at gmail.com
Fri Nov 27 11:37:23 MST 2009


November 26, 2009

*Al-Jazeera English gets CRTC approval

Signal to start early in new year*

Al-Jazeera English, the English-language service of the Qatar-based
broadcaster, has been approved for distribution via satellite in Canada.

Ethnic Channels Group Ltd., a Toronto-based satellite service, had applied
in February to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications
Commission for permission to carry Al-Jazeera English.

On Thursday, the federal regulator approved the request, clearing the way
for Al-Jazeera to be carried via digital satellite. The network could become
available to subscribers by January or February.

"The commission notes the substantial support for the addition of AJE to the
digital lists and considers that AJE will expand the diversity of editorial
points of view in the Canadian broadcasting system," the CRTC said in its

"Further, despite concerns expressed by certain parties, there is nothing on
the record of the current proceeding that leads the commission to conclude
that AJE would violate Canadian regulations, such as those regarding abusive
Jewish concerns

The Canadian Jewish Congress and B'nai Brith Canada had expressed concerns
about how balanced Al-Jazeera's reporting would be, but they neither opposed
nor supported the application. The Jewish organizations instead urged
vigilance in case the news service engages in Holocaust denial or other
anti-Semitic statements.

The CJC also urged the CRTC to ensure Al-Jazeera English remains independent
from its Arabic-language counterpart.

A group called Honest Reporting Canada cited two examples of Al-Jazeera
English's journalism that it said did not meet Canadian standards of
accuracy and balance, but it did not officially oppose the application.

Ethnic Channels Group argued before the regulator that Al-Jazeera English,
which has been operating since 2006 in more than 100 countries, has a good
track record of accuracy and balance.

The 24-hour international news service is an arm of Al-Jazeera, the news
channel based in Doha, Qatar, that some consider controversial because of,
among other things, its reporters' access to al-Qaeda.

Tony Burman, the former head of CBC News who is Al-Jazeera English's
managing director, said he believes Canadians will welcome the international
news service.
'Respected around the world'

"We're now seen in more than 180 million households in more than 100
countries. The political baggage that is associated with Al-Jazeera is
really limited to the United States and thankfully no longer in Canada. I
think the brand of Al-Jazeera is respected around the world," he told CBC
News on Thursday.

"It's is not obsessed at all with the Middle Eastern stories, as important
as they may be. You'll see Africa, you'll see North America, you'll see
Asia. You'll see countries and, dare I say, even continents that are often
not even mentioned in North American media today. I think Canada, as one of
the most multicultural countries in the world, I think will appreciate

Al-Jazeera has a large international network of correspondents, including
many in parts of Africa and Asia that are neglected by other news networks.

It also has a large Washington bureau and plans to open a bureau in Canada,
Burman said.

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