Al Jazeera waits for govt nod for launch in India

(25 October 2010 9:55 pm)

MUMBAI: Al Jazeera is eyeing entry into the Indian market, an important piece in its expansion plans, and is awaiting government clearance.

The Doha, Qatar-based TV network has expressed its serious commitment to tap the Indian market as the managing director recently flew down to India, apparently to press for the channel's clearance.

Al Jazeera is keen to launch its English-language television news channel as it believes that it has the right content positioning to draw in Indian audiences that are tired of the American and western presentation of news.

Hopeful of getting the government nod, Al Jazeera has made efforts to link up with the cable TV operators who control distribution of channels into the consumer homes. While the direct-to-home (DTH) platform has access to 26 million homes, cable winds its way into a whopping 86 million households.

Al Jazeera recently put up a stall at SCaTIndia, India's largest cable TV trade show hosted annually in Mumbai.

For Al Jazeera, India has been a hard love story. The network applied for a downlinking licence way back in 2006 through its India-registered arm AJI International, but has found it difficult to appease the government mandarins.

The network also has plans to launch an Urdu news channel primarily targeted at India. The channel already partners Hindi news channel India TV through a September 2004 deal that allows both channels to broadcast each other's content.

Al Jazeera attracted international attention when it broadcast video statements from Osama Bin Laden and other leaders of the Al Qaeda terror group after the attacks on the World Trade Center on 11 September 2001.