Al Jazeera was originally launched as an Arabic news and current affairs satellite TV channel. Now, Al Jazeera has expanded into a network with internet sites and satellite TV channels, including the Arabic-language and English-language news channels, a sports channel, Al Jazeera Live (a politics and public affairs channel), a children's programming channel, and a documentary channel. The English channel, which was launched in 2006, operates 24/7, with 12 hours broadcast from Doha, and four hours each from London, Kuala Lumpur, and Washington, DC. Its main English competitors in the international market are BBC World and CNN International.
In that it presented controversial views about some Gulf governments, and about the international political activities of some Gulf nations, Al Jazeera is credited with introducing a freedom of speech on TV that was previously unheard of in most Middle Eastern countries. However, at the same time, the network has critics who say (among other things) that it is not hard-hitting enough, particularly concerning stories originating from its home base, Qatar.
The station became familiar to Western viewers after 9/11, when it broadcast videos by Osama bin Laden and members of Al Qaeda.
According to Allied Media Corp., Al Jazeera's Arabic channel claims at least 40-million viewers in the Arab world. In the survey, of the viewers living outside the Arabian countries, the majority are from the United States and they watch it via satellite TV.
Meanwhile, an Al Jazeera news release from September 2007 said that Al Jazeera's English news program had passed the 100 million households mark. Some of Al Jazeera's English content is regularly uploaded to [YouTube] (http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=AlJazeeraEnglish).
Al Jazeera means "The Peninsula."
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