Al Jazeera's Channel staff members prepare for a broadcast in Doha
London – Tom Rollins
Some media commentators are predicting that al-Jazeera may have to give up its web arm if it wants to succeed in breaking America with new channel acquisition, Current TV.The Qatari-owned news broadcaster aims
to bolster its standing in the US market after acquiring Current TV, a cable channel founded by ex-Vice President Al Gore in 2005, for an estimated $400 million on Thursday. The new channel would allow al-Jazeera to broadcast a new channel planned, Al-Jazeera America, into millions more homes across the United States.
But the move presents a problem for the broadcaster. Due to cable and satellite operators demands, al-Jazeera may have to cancel its web arm in order to broadcast in the US.
The Qatari channel, which already reaches 71 million households worldwide, announced it would at least temporarily stop streaming online Al-Jazeera English, the channel’s global English-language news service.
Any new channel would likely not be streamed online either, an al-Jazeera spokesman said.
The broadcaster is currently only available on some local cable markets such as Washington DC.
"We'd love to be able to do both cable and Internet distribution, but the deals with distributors prevent it," the al-Jazeera spokesman said. "The economics are better on cable."
"Al Jazeera's decision to create a US-based news channel was based in part on the fact that Americans have already shown a great demand for its news and programs,” the channel said on Wednesday. “Almost 40% of all online viewing of Al-Jazeera English comes from the United States.”