Qatar-based international English news channel Al Jazeera has gone on-air in India on November 16, 2011. In the first phase, the free-to-air channel is available on DishTV. The group is in talks with other DTH service providers, too, which includes Airtel Digital TV, Tata Sky and Videocon, besides cable operators.
The channel already had a bureau in New Delhi comprising a team of eight journalists and 60 stringers across the country. When asked whether the group was considering to launch a Hindi news channel in India, Al Anstey, MD, Al Jazeera English, clarified, “As we have a significant variety of content, we would certainly like to reach out to a wider range of the viewers. But right now, there are no plans for a Hindi news channel in the pipeline.”
Further, Anstey emphasised that at the moment, the group was focusing on building the brand in India. He further informed that the network had already launched a 24-hour Balkan channel for Yugoslavia region and was also planning to launch a Turkish language channel in the coming year.
While the group will continue to maintain its focus on international news, a significant volume of India-specific news will also be broadcast. Anstey said, “India is an emerging leader in today’s globalised world and a critical country for Al Jazeera English to broadcast across. We are confident that our coverage will be of enormous interest and value to audiences across India.”
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also welcomed Al Jazeera English at a meeting with Al Anstey and India Bureau Chief Anmol Saxena.
Launched in 2006, Al Jazeera English has over 70 bureaus across the world and reaches out to 250 million households in 130 countries. For India, in December 2010, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) had granted a down-linking license to Al Jazeera English.