The Long and Winding Road for AJE

As many hope Al-Jazeera English gets carried by a major cable operator in the U.S, it may be prudent to look at Al-Jazeera’s closest rival – BBC World News, to see what may be in store for the Qatar-based broadcaster. BBC World News began distributing its 30 minute news bulletins in 1998 via PBS stations. After 9/11, the BBC was praised for its impartial coverage as interest grew in the brand. Richard Sambrook, then the BBC global news chief, delivered a keynote speech in Washington in the summer of 2002. While he felt a sustainable audience for BBC World News could be found, he also believed that the BBC would never me be more than a niche brand in one of the most competitive media markets in the world. Three months after Sambrook’s speech, a Washington-based newscast was developed and tailored for the American market. It marked the first time a BBC newscast originated outside the corporations’ London studios. The show was a success and brought great brand recognition to the Beeb and its “spellbinding” news anchor. But it would take four, that’s four, years before Cablevision would sign the first 24-hour carriage deal followed by Cox Communications, Grande and Verizon. No cable provider has signed on BBC World News since 2007. I thought there was a demand for international news in this country. And I believe there is, but Al-Jazeera English could be faulted for being over-confident in it’s belief that 24-hour carriage would soon follow after the historic events that engulfed the Middle East.


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