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Al-Jazeera pays $500M for Current TV network

Published: 1/4/13 @ 12:00


Associated Press

LOS ANGELES

Al-Jazeera has a growing reputation for serious news gathering, and its reporters have won some of the biggest awards in journalism. What the Pan-Arab news network doesn’t have is a significant presence in the U.S.

That’s about to change now that Al-Jazeera is spending $500 million to acquire Current TV, the left-leaning cable news network co-founded by former Vice President Al Gore. The deal gives Al-Jazeera access to about 50 million homes. As part of an expansion, the network is promising to hire more journalists and double the number of U.S. news bureaus it has.

Still, some big questions remain for Al-Jazeera, which is owned by the government of Qatar: How will it stand out in a crowded field of cable TV news channels? And how can it overcome an image that was cemented for many Americans when it gave voice to Osama Bin Laden in the years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks?

Marwan Kraidy, a professor of communication at the University of Pennsylvania and an expert on Arab media, said Al-Jazeera needs to overcome the perception among some Americans that it is a “toxic brand.”