| NEW YORK
NEW YORK Feb 17 Al Jazeera is starting a
public relations campaign to dispel what it calls myths and
misperceptions that have prevented it from reaching more U.S.
and Canadian viewers, the international television news network
said on Tuesday.
Al Jazeera's English-language service is starting a website
called IWantAJE.net, offering news the Qatar-based network
produces and a list of "Hits and Myths" knocking down
statements about the network that it says are untrue.
It is launching a similar site for Canadians, IWantAJE.ca,
as it prepares to seek permission from the Radio-television and
Telecommunications Commission in Canada to offer its service
through cable and satellite providers there.
The websites will ask people to e-mail to their cable and
satellite providers asking them to carry the channel. Viewers
can also watch the channel live on the website and read
bulletins with the day's top stories.
Along with the website, Al Jazeera said it would buy print
and online advertisements in newspapers such as the Globe &
Mail in Toronto, The New York Times (NYT.N), and the Huffington
Post. It follows a campaign that ran last month in the Times,
The Washington Post WPO.N, Foreign Policy and Politico.com.
Al Jazeera, whose Arabic-language channel is available in
the United States through the DISH (DISH.O) satellite TV
network, is available in English through a small number of
cable operators in the United States. Worldwide, about 130
million households have access to the site.
Al Jazeera has said that gaining access in the United
States has been hampered by what it calls misperceptions that
it supports al Qaeda and its leader Osama bin Laden, that it is
anti-Semitic and anti-American, that it shows beheadings, and
that it has an anti-Western agenda.
"We don't wear horns. Osama bin Laden does not have a
weekly interview show," said Tony Burman, managing director of
Al Jazeera English and former editor in chief at the Canadian
When former U.S. Marine Corps Captain Josh Rushing, now a
reporter for Al Jazeera, went with a TV crew to Golden,
Colorado, to cover the Democratic presidential convention last
year, Al Jazeera's presence sparked protests from local
"People who have never watched it have a super-strong
opinion about this thing they've never seen and don't want it
on their airwaves," Rushing said.
Nonetheless, Al Jazeera English is close to announcing a
deal with a major cable provider, Burman said, but he declined
to name the company because the talks are ongoing.
(Reporting by Robert MacMillan)