The Al Jazeera English newsroom, which will now broadcast to 2m homes in New YorkCopyright: mohamedn on Flickr. Some rights reserved
At midnight last night, Al Jazeera English (AJE) began broadcasting on US network Time Warner Cable, taking it to around 2 million homes in the region.
Six months on from the eruption of widespread protest across the Middle East, the agreement follows the most high-profile period in the history of the Qatar-based news channel.
In the immediate aftermath of the uprisings, some US media commentators – including Jeff Jarvis – called for US cable networks to add AJE, claiming that it was "downright un-American not to".
In a statement announcing the launch, AJE said that since February it had received more than 70,000 emails from the US requesting access to the channel, with the vast majority of those coming from New York.
AJE is already available on cable in certain other parts of the US. It airs 24 hours a day in several locations, including Washington DC, and during selected times in others, including Los Angeles.
It's Arabic sister channel was viewed largely with suspicion by US authorities for years, and was criticised by George Bush during his presidency after airing video messages recorded by Osama Bin Laden. Its newsrooms were also bombed by the US in both Afghanistan and Iraq, although US authorities claimed the strikes were mistakes.
AJE, on the other hand, won praise from the US administration for its coverage of the uprisings in the Arab world, with secretary of state Hilary Clinton saying that the channel was airing "real news".
"Viewership of Al Jazeera is going up in the United States because it's real news. You may not agree with it, but you feel like you're getting real news around the clock instead of a million commercials and arguments between talking heads and the kind of stuff that we do on our news, which is not particularly informative to us, let alone foreigners."
Al Anstey, managing director of AJE, said in a statement that the channel was "delighted to now be on televisions across New York".
"This launch has been fueled by viewer demand. We are already part of the media landscape here, with one in ten people having got information on events in America and the world from our website this year alone.
"We get more web traffic from New York than any other city on earth. Half a million New Yorkers are classed as regular visitors. Ever since our establishment, we’ve been committed to coverage of America and New York with a large bureau and team of journalists based in the city, so we’re delighted to now be broadcasting global news onto televisions throughout the global melting pot that is New York."
Anstey told the New York Times' Brian Stelter that early meetings with US networks had been about trying to correct "myths and misconceptions" about the AJE, but that now they don't come up.
He added that the channel, which receives some funding from the Qatari finance ministry, will not be seeking the per-subscriber fee common to most US cable channels. "Revenue is not our priority," he said. "It’s being seen."
AJE was launched in 2006 and currently broadcasts in countries around the world.
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