Al Jazeera English (AJE), the only international news channel operating from the Gulf, is likely to reach Indian television screens in the next few months.
Al Anstey, managing director of the Qatar-based network, said that the channel has “nearly completed” the procedures for getting a landing license in India, and has begun talks with leading cable operators.
“India is one of the most important markets for us, and I believe it has intelligent, outward-looking viewers who would appreciate high quality content,” said Anstey, who is visiting Mumbai. “Cable operating companies have shown a huge interest and willingness to transmit our signals to viewers here.”
From broadcasting a video of Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden justifying the 9/11 attacks in the US in 2001 to having its Kabul office razed in a US missile attack, the Arabic station has had a tumultuous past.
AJE was launched as an offshoot of the Arabic Al Jazeera four years ago. It covers India through a bureau in New Delhi and has 30 bureaus worldwide.
According to Anstey, launching in India is part of the channel’s new development plans, which include expanding its bureaus and staff base for sharper news gathering across the developing world.
“In a competitive market with a proliferation of news channels, I believe AJE has something different to offer India in terms of its journalistic vision and quality of content,” said Anstey, adding that the channel’s mission is to cover stories from developing countries in ways that make it interesting for a global audience.
“The channel emerged as a democratic voice in the middle-east, and though we are owned by the Qatar government, we operate with complete editorial independence,” said Anstey.
“There are times when we have been thrown out of a country, but that only means we have done our job of covering the truth.”