Report: Qatar plans to launch Al Jazeera competitor

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A communications satellite (Source: Evuris)

A communications satellite (Source: Evuris)

The government of Qatar plans to launch a new pan-Arab satellite news channel that would counter news programming offered by Al Jazeera, according to a new report.

The Arabic-language news website Alkhaleej reported on Sunday that the government plans to launch a new satellite channel called “Al-Arabi al-Jadeed.” The channel would be based in London with website operations in Beirut, according to the report.

The channel’s launch appears to be purely political: According to the report, Qatar seeks to restore its image in countries such as the United Arab Emirates and Egypt where Qatari-financed news channel Al Jazeera has drawn controversy over its perceived editorial bias, specifically with stories involving the political group Muslim Brotherhood.

Al-Arabi al-Jadeed would seek to restore the image of Qatar by providing counter-programming to that offered on Al Jazeera, according to Alkhaleej. Editorially, the channels would compete against each other despite being bankrolled by the same government.

The channel has apparently started recruiting talent: At least one journalist from the BBC has already been approached regarding a position at Al-Arabi al-Jadeed, according to Arab commentator Sultan Al Qassemi.

 

Despite the plan, there’s a possibility that the channel won’t get off the ground: In the Middle East, it’s not uncommon for a satellite TV channel to be announced, and then never launched. In this case, it’s unclear where exactly the channel will be available, and a launch date has not been set.