Al Jazeera strikes Hong Kong deal


HONG KONG -- Al Jazeera English, the Qatar-based news and current affairs channel, has struck a deal with Hong Kong Cable Television Ltd. for landing rights in Hong Kong, Cable TV announced Thursday.

The channel will debut in Hong Kong this coming Wednesday.

The Cable TV deal is only a small part of Al Jazeera's larger expansion plans for their English-language channel, which the company hopes will land in the U.S. later this year.

"We are excited about reaching a sizable new audience in this important market. This agreement underlines the importance of the Asian region to our next phase of growth," Al Jazeera director of global distribution Phil Lawrie said.

Cable TV has struggled to maintain its subscriber level in the face of stiff competition from rival PCCW Ltd.'s Now TV, which outbid Cable TV on the all-important soccer matches and first-run features, leaving Cable TV to focus on niche areas.

"News has always been our flagship program and the addition of Al Jazeera will further enhance the width and depth of our news service with the channel's unique content and perspective," said Cable Television executive director Benjamin Tong.

Al Jazeera English claims carriage in more than 100 million households worldwide.