And finally . . . here is the late news in English from al-Jazeera
By Dan Sabbagh, Media Editor
AL-JAZEERA, the broadcaster once denounced as propaganda by Donald Rumsfeld, will launch its long-awaited English-language channel on Wednesday in the hope of tipping the balance of the international news agenda.
Based in Qatar and funded by the country?s Emir, al-Jazeera International has poached journalists such as Sir David Frost, Rageh Omar and the BBC newsreader Darren Jordon. Its goal is to become a respected and impartial provider of news, watched in well over 5 million homes, and to act as an alternative to the American and European media. It will employ 250 journalists of 47 nationalities.
Nigel Parsons, the managing director, promised a slightly different news agenda. ?When our rivals covered the verdict of the Saddam trial, they went back to London and Washington for the reaction of Middle East experts; our experts are Arabs in the Middle East.?
Jordon, who will be a news anchor based in Doha, said that it was exciting to work with people from a range of cultures, which could be interpreted as a veiled criticism of the BBC, once described as ?hideously white? by Greg Dyke, its former Director-General.
The channel was expected to be on the air a year ago, but has been dogged by repeated delays. It will be one of the few channels to be broadcast in high definition and will run a round-the-clock service from four principal bureaux, in Kuala Lumpur, Doha, London and Washington.
It will also have to overcome the reputation of its ten-year-old Arabic sister network, best known for broadcasting tapes from al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden and which has had bureaux in Kabul and Baghdad targeted in military action since September 11.
Mr Parsons, a Briton, like many al-Jazeera International employees, has helped to put together a style guide which is intended to emphasise a studied neutrality. Like the BBC, the station intends to be sparing in its use of the word terrorism. The channel also promises to be circumspect about transmitting any tapes purporting to be from bin Laden and about use of the term ?suicide bomber?. In Arabic, the word shaheed is used, which in English carries connotations of martyrdom.
Although the Emir owns the al-Jazeera network, which will include sports channels and a documentary channel next year, there is no evidence of overt political interference. The Arabic and English operations will share bureaux, video and staff, creating an opportunity for cultural crossover between the two stations? values.
The channel idea has quickly won acceptance in Europe, where it will be available in more than 40 million homes, and it is thought that Tony Blair will be one of Sir David?s first guests on the al-Jazeera sofa.
Despite attempts to cultivate the White House, Congress and US broadcasters, however, it is struggling to get mass distribution in the United States.
SIR DAVID FROST Presenter, Frost Over The World, weekly interview programme. Veteran interviewer whose style has softened in the past decade
RAGEH OMAR Presenter, Witness, a daily documentary. Somali-born, British-educated journalist, who made his name as the BBC?s reporter in Baghdad during the Iraq War
DARREN JORDON News anchor, based in Doha. One of the BBC?s most prominent black journalists. Spent eight years in Jamaican Army. Educated at Sandhurst.