I woke up this morning to alerts on my cell phone, my calendar and my fridge, all saying the same thing: “Al Jazeera! Al Jazeera! Al Jazeera!”
That’s right, Al Jazeera English (AJE) is now available in Canada on three of the country’s largest cable providers. The channel also plans to open a bureau in Toronto as early as next month, after a nearly four year-long fight to get the channel on the air.
Last summer, the Canadian Radio-Television Telecommunications Commission, Canada’s broadcast regulator, let the country’s people have a major say in whether Al Jazeera English would be allowed to broadcast in the country. An overwhelming 98 per cent of responses were in favor of allowing the channel to broadcast here, so AJE was given license last summer.
The channel faces much opposition, primarily from the Canadian Jewish Congress and B’nai Brith (another Jewish group), because of some of the accusations made against Al Jazeera English’s sister station, Al Jazeera Arabic. That channel has been accused of airing some anti-American and anti-Semitic programming, however Al Jazeera English is managed by Tony Burman, the ex-Editor-in-Chief of CBC News, Canada’s public broadcaster. He has personally met with opposition groups in Canada, in an attempt to ease suspicions.
To mark the channel’s inclusion in Canada’s media landscape, Al Jazeera English will be adding a Canadian spin to many of its programs in the upcoming weeks, including, according to the CBC:
- A look at what Canada’s departure from Afghanistan in 2011 will mean for NATO.
- In-depth features on Canada’s oilsands, including reports from Alberta on life at Fort McMurray.
- An examination of Canada’s controversial climate change policy.
- A report from Winnipeg on the hearings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for residential school survivors
Al Jazeera English began broadcasting in 2006. It is based out of Qatar with headquarters in Washington DC, London and Kuala Lumpur. It prides itself in covering issues that Western media tend to ignore, including Asian, African and South American issues.