Al Jazeera, France 24 Cleared for India Broadcast

English Channels Went Live Locally Tuesday

NEW DELHI -- India's Information and Broadcasting Ministry has cleared Qatar-based Arabic news channel Al Jazeera, along with French government-backed news outlet France 24, both of which began their English service here Tuesday.

For Al Jazeera, the approval ended a four-year wait since it first applied to broadcast in India. France 24's approval coincided with the first India state visit of French premier Nicholas Sarkozy and his wife Carla Bruni that concluded Tuesday.

“This is an exciting breakthrough that has been in the works for several years, and we are extremely pleased that Al Jazeera English's groundbreaking news and programming will soon be available in India," Al Jazeera English managing director Al Anstey said in a statement. 

“With the prospect of reaching an estimated 115 million households in India, this important market will be significant as we continue to expand our global reach," the channel's India distribution head Diana Hosker added. 

Al Jazeera English has been running its India news bureau based in New Delhi, headed by Anmol Saxena.

While Al Jazeera's Arabic service originally launched in 1996, Al Jazeera English was launched in 2006 and has 65 news bureaus around the world with the channel available in over 100 countries, claiming a reach of over 220 million households.

The channel gained worldwide attention after it started covering the U.S. war on terror live from Afghanistan by opening an office there following the Sept. 11 attacks. Most notably, the channel made headlines when it aired video messages by Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

“We believe it is very important to be in India, which is the fastest growing TV and mobile market in the world,” said France 24 holding company Audiovisuel Extrieur de la France COO Christine Ockrent. The public-funded company also controls TV5 Monde and French radio service RFI.