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ANUJ KUMAR
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Launch Al Jazeera English takes off in India from the DTH platform

WE'RE HERE Al Antsey, Managing Director, Al Jazeera
WE'RE HERE Al Antsey, Managing Director, Al Jazeera

A l Jazeera Network, which arguably challenged the unilateral flow of information after 9/11 with its in-depth coverage of West Asia and Afghanistan, is finally here with the launch of Al Jazeera English this past week on the DTH platform of Dish TV. Headquartered in Doha, the five-year-old channel has 70 bureaus around the world reaching out to 130 countries. The Delhi bureau is headed by seasoned journalist Anmol Saxena with seven journalists and around 60 stringers spread across the country. An elated Al Antsey, Managing Director of Al Jazeera, told the media that when he met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh he said that the network is gaining quite a reputation worldwide.

Speaking on the sidelines of the media briefing, Antsey agreed that there were certain concerns in the government about granting the licence to the channel in the beginning but that is now a thing of the past.

Pointing out that the channel has journalists of 40 nationalities working in the newsroom, Anstey said there was no room for bias. “We don't like to see the world through a geographical or political prism. We are neither pro nor against anybody. There are filters in place to take out any bias in the story. We are fiercely independent and are all for journalism of credibility and integrity.”

Asked about the nature of exclusives that the channel has been known to telecast and the chances of it becoming a mouthpiece of some separatist groups, Anstey said that there are certain misconceptions about the channel. “We follow the highest standards of journalism and every story is covered on the basis of its news value and all sides of the story, all relevant points of views are covered. Let the people watch the channel before arriving at an opinion.”

He said that the licence has come without any riders. “No pre-conditions have been laid out. It took some time because licensing is a comprehensive process. It required clearance from several ministries and that's the way it should be.” Funded by the state of Qatar, he said that advertising is important but the channel would like to build its reputation and reach on the basis of its integrity and quality of work on a daily basis. “That's how Al Jazeera has become a channel of reference in the last five years.”

On the increasing use of social media, Anstey said that social media sites played an important role in the Arab Spring but news channels should use standard journalistic practices to check the authenticity of comments and pictures before putting them on air. “If the source is anonymous the audience should be told.”

ANUJ KUMAR

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