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Al Jazeera Media Network bought the US TV channel Current which was facing financial problems. The deal will allow Al Jazeera to enter millions of American homes using Current’s network.
Al Jazeera, launched in 1996, made its mark as the first successful pan-Arab news channel. The channel rose to the pinnacle of success at the beginning of Arab Spring, when it managed to provide live, minute-by-minute coverage of the uprisings in Arab countries.
Al Jazeera was praised as a strong, influential channel that supported the revolutions, managing to cover from the first spark of the revolution to the climax in Tunisia, and later in Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Syria. But after the revolutions, many channels entered the market and began to compete with Al Jazeera, benefiting from the new freedom brought by the revolutions. This resulted in a fall in the viewership of Al Jazeera and contributing to this was the alleged bias in its coverage of Arab Spring, as was pointed out by The Economist magazine.
Despite the fact that media differ in their style of functioning and editorial policies, certain key factors contribute to their success like impartiality, objectivity and credibility. As it prepares to enter the US, the management of Al Jazeera must realise that America has a thriving and vibrant media market. Therefore, they should have a clear vision and policy so as not to become like Washington-sponsored Al Hurra TV channel which lost credibility a long time ago, forcing the US government to rethink its huge budget and the necessity of its continuation.
Al Jazeera America can influence public opinion as long as the channel is not used as a political tool, especially since the Zionist lobby in the US is determined to thwart its growth and success. The channel will be able to address the American public only if it keeps away from ideological conflicts and special agendas. It must adopt neutral policies, be objective and strive to present the truth.
The management of the channel must prepare its US strategy with great caution. Access to an unlimited budget alone will not guarantee success, in the same way it didn’t bring success to Al Hurra channel. Al Jazeera network should appoint qualified and talented staff to manage its operations and win the confidence of American audiences and build credibility. It already enjoys a good reputation among some Americans, as was proved by the statement of former Secretary of State Colin Powell who once said that Al Jazeera “is the only channel that I watch”. Similarly, the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that she might not agree with Al Jazeera English, but “I feel that I get real news for 24 hours”.