Al Jazeera English to seek distribution in Canada



    
    Channel pledges to open Canadian bureau;
    Launches "IWantAJE.ca" to garner support
    

    TORONTO, Feb. 17 /CNW/ - Al Jazeera English, the award-winning 24-hour
international news and current affairs channel broadcast in more than 100
countries, announced today that it will formally seek cable and satellite
carriage in Canada.
    If authorized for distribution in Canada, AJE has committed to opening
its first Canadian news bureau to bring Canadian news to a worldwide audience.
This would make Al Jazeera English the only international news channel to have
a news bureau in Canada.
    The channel, which is already seen in more than 130 million households
worldwide, will submit an application to the Canadian Radio-television and
Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) for review in order to obtain a place on
the list of Eligible Satellite services, which is a legal requirement for
non-Canadian channels to be distributed in Canada. This is the first
application to the CRTC for carriage of Al Jazeera English.
    ECG (Ethnic Channels Group) will present the application to the CRTC
acting in their capacity as the channel's sponsor. ECG is a Canadian
multi-ethnic broadcaster, which currently offers 12 television channels to
Canadian cable and satellite systems.
    The CRTC process is for the application to be studied by the CRTC and
then Canadians will be asked for feedback over a 30-day period. AJE has
received informal indications from Canada's major cable and satellite carriers
that it will broadcast Al Jazeera English once CRTC approval has been granted.
AJE's goal is to be broadcast in Canadian homes by this autumn.
    AJE has more than 1200 employees worldwide, representing more than 45
nationalities, including many Canadians - the channel's Managing Director,
Tony Burman, is a Canadian and former Editor in Chief of the CBC. AJE
constitutes the most diverse news service in the world. Combined with the Al
Jazeera Arabic service, it has 69 international news bureaus - more than the
BBC and CNN.
    After only two years on the air, the channel has become an award-winning
leader in the coverage of Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the
Americas. AJE adheres to a strict Code of Ethics and its quality standards are
overseen in Europe by Ofcom, the UK broadcast regulator.
    Al Jazeera English is broadcast throughout Israel and in more than 100
other countries and it gained international acclaim in recent weeks as the
only international English-language news channel that covered the Gaza-Israeli
war from both sides of the conflict. It was the only broadcast organization
that had correspondents and journalist teams working exclusively within Gaza
throughout the conflict, and it fully covered the Israeli side from several
locations within Israel.
    "It is clear to us there is a significant demand for AJE in Canada," said
Tony Burman, Managing Director of Al Jazeera English. "Canadians want to
understand the world in all of its diversity and cultural richness. Our
website receives 22 million visits every month with over 50% coming from North
America, and our branded YouTube page is by far the most popular news site on
YouTube. These numbers alone show how hungry Canadians are for the fearless,
groundbreaking reporting that runs daily on AJE. This is a demonstration of
the country's commitment to freedom of expression."
    "ECG's philosophy is to provide all the communities in Canada with equal
access to their programming of choice," said Oleg Masliy, EVP Business
Development of ECG. "Our intention to sponsor Al Jazeera English's application
fits very well with that philosophy".
    To assist their efforts and to garner support for the channel, Al Jazeera
English launched a website, "IWantAJE.ca", which provides information on the
network and offers interested individuals the chance to send electronic
letters directly to their cable or satellite provider requesting that the
channel is carried.
    Al Jazeera English launched in November 2006 as the world's first English
language news channel to be headquartered in the Middle East. With broadcast
centers strategically placed in Asia (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), the Middle East
(Doha, Qatar), Europe (London) and the Americas (Washington, DC), and nearly
70 news bureaus around the world, the channel's aim is to provide independent
and impartial news for a global audience, giving a voice to under-reported
regions.
    In its short time on air, Al Jazeera English has been recognized for its
distinguished reporting and programming, receiving awards from the Monte-Carlo
TV Festival, Amnesty International, YouTube and two Emmy nominations for
international news and current affairs.
    It has just been nominated as 'international news channel of the year' by
the U.K.'s prestigious Royal Television Society (RTS).

    About Al Jazeera English

    Al Jazeera English is the first English language world news channel to be
headquartered in the Middle East. Launched in November 2006 Al Jazeera English
is setting the global news agenda and acts as a bridge between cultures. With
unique access as the channel of reference for Middle East events, and
broadcast centres strategically placed around the world in Doha, Kuala Lumpur,
London and Washington DC, Al Jazeera English is balancing the information flow
from South to North, providing independent and impartial news for a global
audience from a grass roots level, giving voice to different perspectives from
under-reported regions around the world.
    Al Jazeera English is available in over 100 countries to over 130 million
households worldwide, and was recently awarded "Best 24 Hour News Program" at
the 48th Annual Monte Carlo Television Festival. The channel also recently
received its first two International Emmy nominations in both news and current
affairs, for its groundbreaking coverage of the military crackdown in Myanmar
and for its Red Mosque coverage.
    In the US, Al Jazeera English is currently available on Buckeye Cable in
Ohio, Burlington Telecom in Vermont, Washington Cable in DC and nationally via
satellite provider Globecast WorldTV. Al Jazeera English's dedicated page on
YouTube is the website's most watched international news channel, with 21
million videos viewed since its launch in April 2007.
    The Arabic language Al Jazeera Satellite Channel is well known as a
pioneer in bringing independent and current affairs television to the region
and changing the face of news in the Middle East, .
    Visit www.aljazeera.net/english for more details.

    About ECG

    Ethnic Channels Group Limited ("ECG") is a privately held Canadian
company licensed by the Canadian Radio Television and Telecommunications
Commission (CRTC) to operate 52 category 2 digital specialty services to the
Canadian market place. ECGL is currently operating 12 Category 2 (digital
specialty services) channels that deliver 24 hours 7 days a week leading
programming from the countries of origin, serving the following communities:
Arabic, Filipino, German, Greek, Iranian, Israeli, Russian, and Vietnamese.
ECGL also provides broadcasting facilities to third parties from its NCC -
Network Control Center. The Company has built its broadcast infrastructure
using the newest technology with unique network architecture as its backbone.
Delivering services via satellite and/or fiber ECGL is a full service
television production and distribution centre fully equipped with master
control, edit facilities and production studio. For more information please
visit www.ethnicchannels.com





For further information:

For further information: For media inquires in North America: Molly
Conroy - MollyC@BrownLloydJames.com, Office: (416) 545-0168, Mobile: (917)
348-8540; Additional inquires on Al Jazeera: Lauren McCollough -
MccolloughL@aljazeera.net, Office: (974) 489-6040

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