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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 September, 2004, 17:02 GMT 18:02 UK
Al-Jazeera plans English channel
Osama Bin Laden
Al-Jazeera sprang to fame after airing exclusive Bin Laden footage
Arab satellite television station al-Jazeera plans to launch an English-language news channel by the end of 2005, according to a station official.

Project manager Nigel Parsons said the aim is to fill a "gap in the market" and counteract "unbalanced" reporting by Western networks.

The network's Arabic-language channel was criticised by the US government for its coverage of the war in Iraq.

The original Arabic news channel was set up in 1996.

Mr Parsons, the London-based managing editor of al-Jazeera International, said the planned channel would have around 200 members of staff.

Outlining the project, he said: "We believe there is a gap in the market and we intend to fill it.

Balanced news

"That gap involves a better understanding of the developing world and a more balanced news agenda".

Al-Jazeera, which is financially backed by the Qatari government, is in talks with satellite distributors and hopes to make the new channel available globally.

"There has been a lot of criticism from people who don't speak Arabic and only see tapes of Osama Bin Laden and think that is all al-Jazeera is about," said Mr Parsons.

He says the network hopes that the proposed channel will enable them to "reach out to a wider audience" to show other sides of the network's news coverage.

Mr Parsons added: "One of the aims is to give people a better understanding of each other by presenting both sides of the story".

Al-Jazeera started to attract worldwide attention during the Afghan war in 2001 as it was the only station with a 24-hour satellite link from Kabul to the outside world.

It remained in the spotlight after airing exclusive footage of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden following the 11 September attacks on the US.

In August the network was forced to close its office in Baghdad by the Iraqi interim government.




SEE ALSO:
Iraq orders al-Jazeera suspension
07 Aug 04  |  Middle East
Al-Jazeera debates its future
13 Jul 04  |  Middle East
Rumsfeld blasts Arab TV stations
26 Nov 03  |  Middle East
Al-Jazeera chief 'sacked'
27 May 03  |  Middle East
Al-Jazeera: News channel in the news
29 Mar 03  |  Middle East


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