6:17am PT by Georg Szalai
Al Jazeera English Newscasts Rise 135% in Ratings on LA's KCET
NEW YORK - Al Jazeera English may have had a difficult time gaining cable distribution in the U.S., but its newscasts have done well for Los Angeles public broadcast station KCET-TV, which has carried them since February, the New York Times reported.
The station quit its relationship with PBS at the beginning of the year citing high dues.
Al Jazeera newscasts then began airing on KCET four times each weekday - from early morning to late nights - and once a day on weekends. In its main weekday slot at 4pm, ratings rose 135 percent from February through May, the station said, according to the New York Times.
Overall, the newscasts are drawing more than 285,000 viewers each week, it said.
Within a three-hour block of international newscasts that KCET presents from 4 to 7pm on weekdays, the two Al Jazeera segments far outpace broadcasts from Japan’s NHK and the Israel Broadcasting Authority, but they trail the long-established BBC World News, according to the Times.
KCET carried Al Jazeera with a three-hour delay as part of a package on a digital subchannel, but amid the revolution in Egypt earlier this year moved it to its main channel, said Bret Marcus, KCET’s chief content officer. “We wanted to be able to air it live and to air their expanded coverage,” he said.
While he expected some criticism from viewers about the network's point of view, he told the Times that “most people think it’s been very even-handed.”
A spokeswoman for Al Jazeera English said the KCET ratings “have shown that there is increased demand” for the network's newscasts.