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Al Jazeera English began airing in New York City 23 hours a day Monday in a sublet agreement on cable channel RISE. (The network must carry one hour of local programming a day per its carriage agreement.)
RISE, a former Spanish-language network, can be seen on channel 92 on Time Warner Cable and channel 466 on Verizon FiOS. The president of the network’s sister station WRNN, Richard E. French Jr., told the New York Times he was impressed with Al Jazeera’s reporting and 70 worldwide bureaus.
The Qatar-based news network streams online 24/7, but has faced trouble finding a permanent home on cable. It sublets space on the MHz network near Washington, D.C., a public TV station in Los Angeles and the LInk TV network in Ohio and Vermont.
“I think every American should have the right to watch Al Jazeera English in any medium they want,” Amjad Atallah, the channel’s new bureau chief for the Americas, told the Times. “As an American, what grates is that I’m prevented from watching something.”
The sometimes controversial network — the Afghanistan and Iraq bureaus of its sister station, Al Jazeera Arabic, were each struck by American missiles over the last decade (officials said it was a mistake) — was founded in 2006 to compete with the BBC and CNN International.
It’s not the only international station trying for a foothold into the American market; BBC World News is also jockeying for carriage.
Explained Cox Communications in a statement to the Times: “The incremental value of adding one channel to the hundreds in our lineup rarely offsets the broader challenges of rising programming costs and bandwidth management…[It’s] less about them and more indicative of the business environment.”
Summed up Paul Maxwell, who runs a cable industry consulting firm: “It’s all about leverage in this business, and they don’t have any.”
Still, executives at the network, which has been lauded for its coverage of the Arab spring, are determined for permanent U.S. carriage.
“We will get on in the U.S.,” said Al Anstey, the channel’s managing director.
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