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Al Jazeera to Start PR Campaign

posted on: Feb 25, 2009

Al Jazeera is starting a public relations campaign to dispel what it calls myths and misperceptions that have prevented it from reaching more U.S. and Canadian viewers, the international television news network has said.

Al Jazeera has said that gaining access in the United States has been hampered by what it calls misperceptions that it supports Al Qaeda and its leader Osama bin Laden, that it is anti-Semitic and anti-American, that it shows beheadings and that it has an anti-Western agenda.

“We don’t wear horns,” Tony Burman, managing director of Al Jazeera English and former editor in chief at the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., said Tuesday. “Osama bin Laden does not have a weekly interview show.”

Al Jazeera’s English-language service is starting a Web site called, offering news produced by the network, which is based in Qatar, and a list of “Hits and Myths” rebutting statements about the network that it says are untrue.

A similar site will be introduced in Canada, where it is preparing to seek permission to offer its service through cable and satellite providers.
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The Web sites will ask people to send e-mail messages to their cable and satellite providers asking them to carry the channel. Viewers can also watch the channel live on the Web site and read bulletins with the day’s top stories.

Al Jazeera said it would also buy print and online advertisements.

Al Jazeera, whose Arabic-language channel is available in the United States through the DISH satellite TV network, is available in English only through a small number of cable operators. Worldwide, about 130 million households have access to the site.

When a former U.S. Marine Corps captain, Josh Rushing, now a reporter for Al Jazeera, went with a TV crew to Golden, Colorado, to cover the Democratic presidential convention last year, Al Jazeera’s presence sparked protests from local motorcycle gangs.

“People who have never watched it have a super-strong opinion about this thing they’ve never seen and don’t want it on their airwaves,” Rushing said.