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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 June 2005, 19:32 GMT 20:32 UK
Change of image for al-Jazeera TV
By Sebastian Usher
BBC world media correspondent

Al-Jazeera's newsroom
The newsroom now appears behind presenters during bulletins
The Arab-language news channel, al-Jazeera, has been given a face-lift.

The station has won millions of viewers in the Arab world with its pioneering

and often taboo-busting news and current affairs programmes.

It has also been condemned by the US as a purveyor of anti-American propaganda - and it has faced bans in many Arab states for criticising the authorities.

In covering the past few years of conflict in Iraq, the Palestinian territories and Afghanistan, it has shown extremely violent and bloody images - which al-Jazeera editors say has been necessary in order to show what is really happening.

Our future direction will be to reach the human, as a human, with a human's hopes, pains and aspirations
Ahmed al-Shaykh
Chief Editor
But now, its senior managers and editors say they want the channel to reflect a broader range of subjects.

To this end, a number of changes have been made to the look of the station.

There is a new newsroom replacing the cramped old one that has been in use since al-Jazeera was set up in Qatar 10 years ago.

The newsroom now appears in shot behind the newsreaders during bulletins - showing journalists dressed both in Western and traditional Arab styles.

'Better style and substance'

Al-Jazeera's station ident has been changed.

Now, it shows a golden globe plunging into blue waves and then rising back to the surface in the form of al-Jazeera's logo.

The same globe is shown as the ident before news bulletins. The motif of blue waves is also used in programme trails.

New graphics have been introduced across the output, using softer blues and greens than the previous dominant colour, red. The effect is to give a calmer, more uniform feel to the station.

Al-Jazeera's logo
A golden globe plunges into water, emerging as the al-Jazeera logo

The slogan behind the redesign is "better style and substance".

Al-Jazeera executives say they want it to reflect a wider range of stories, including more in-depth coverage.

They say the station will now be concentrating more on human interest stories.

"Our new future direction will be to reach the human, as a human, with a human's hopes, pains and aspirations, targeting the forgotten areas that no one has tried to reach before," said chief editor Ahmed al-Shaykh.

A new programme, "This Morning", is on from 0500 to 0700 GMT, giving space to stories outside the main news agenda such as reports on the education system in Niger and the attitude of Egyptian artists to politics.

More interactivity is being encouraged, too - with e-mails invited from viewers at regular intervals during the day.

The overall impression is of a sleeker, more modern and perhaps less aggressive style.

Increased competition

The station's remake may give a foretaste of what to expect from al-Jazeera's much-awaited English language station when it starts broadcasting some time in the next six months or so.

Al-Jazeera has risen to international prominence in the past few years. A recent poll by the online magazine, Brandchannel, voted it the world's fifth most influential brand.

It is estimated to have about 40 million viewers.

But the revolution in Arab TV that it set off has produced an increasing number of rivals, such as the Dubai-based al-Arabiya and the US-backed al-Hurra. Critics have accused it of losing some of its edge.

Its financial backing comes from the Qatari government and it has yet to make a profit, but there is increasing talk of privatisation at some point in the future.

The redesign of the channel shows al-Jazeera's awareness that it needs to keep moving in order to maintain its position and popularity.

Some may also see it as an indication of the station's gradual movement away from the more strident style it became famous for during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

At that time, it was seen not just as a news channel, but a powerful Arab voice challenging the version of events presented by the Western media.




SEE ALSO:
Iran bans al-Jazeera after riots
19 Apr 05 |  Middle East
Al-Jazeera launches new channel
15 Apr 05 |  Middle East
Watchdog blasts al-Jazeera bans
28 Jan 05 |  Europe
Al-Jazeera plans English channel
02 Sep 04 |  Entertainment
Al-Jazeera's cash crisis
07 Apr 03 |  Business
Country profile: Qatar
16 Jun 05 |  Country profiles


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