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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 November 2006, 16:14 GMT
English al-Jazeera sets own agenda
Al-Jazeera English presenters
Kicking it off

One of the big questions surrounding the launch of the new Al-Jazeera English channel is how will its news agenda compare with its Arabic counterpart.

Viewed over the first 90 minutes, the new channel - one of the first to broadcast globally in high-definition - followed its own agenda, broadcasting different stories from its original Arabic service.

The first hour of Al-Jazeera English transmission was built around a mixture of live reports and recorded features from correspondents around the world.

A hard news report on the death of an Israeli woman in a Palestinian rocket attack was linked to an Israeli minister's response that "so-called terror organizations" would pay the price.

Al-Jazeera noted that there was a "sharp contrast" in the number of Israeli and Palestinian casualties.

During the first half-hour, the channel also crossed live to correspondents in Darfur, Tehran and Zimbabwe.

'Zimbabwe breakthrough'

Al-Jazeera's Zimbabwe correspondent
Our man in Harare

Correspondent Ferai Sevenzo in the Zimbabwean capital's Robert Mugabe Street said that Al-Jazeera English was "the first international broadcaster to broadcast live from this capital in some seven years".

Shortly after the channel went on air, first reports began to break of a tsunami in Japan.

Within 20 minutes, the channel went briefly live to its bureau in Kuala Lumpur for an update on the situation, and also broadcast live pictures from Japan's NHK television.

The first hour concluded with a report from Beijing on illegal "boy racers" speeding around the ring roads of the Chinese capital.

The Arabic channel covered the launch of AJE live, instead of its usual midday news roundup, and included a live interview with Al-Jazeera's director-general, who spoke of his pride at the new channel's launch.

After 10 minutes, its news programme began with a report from Iraq on the kidnappings at the Ministry of Higher Education.

It then moved to Cairo for a live report from its correspondent on the Palestinian-Egyptian summit.

Website relaunch

The station's first breaking news story
Reporting the tsunami

While the Arabic channel adhered closely to an Arab-led news agenda, AJE was carrying pre-packaged reports from the world's hot spots, some of which had no news peg to the story.

Other news stories on Al-Jazeera Arabic included a clip from the Emir of Qatar's speech in Strasbourg at the EU parliament, plus the latest from Gaza, Darfur and UN reaction on Iran.

The channel's English website, aljazeera.net/English, was also relaunched on Wednesday to reflect the television's look and editorial content.

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.

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