After struggling to line up major cable operators to carry the English version of Al Jazeera last year, the Arabic news channel in April turned to the Web’s primary TV alternative: YouTube.
The launch of its own branded outpost on the video-sharing site is aimed at boosting the profile of Al Jazeera English, which launched in November. The YouTube channel features clips from several shows including “Inside Iraq,” which examines the conflict there, and a current-affairs program hosted by famed interviewer David Frost. The site is adding 10 to 15 clips a week.
The big cable companies including Time Warner, Cablevision and Comcast have passed on adding the controversial network to their systems. But it has been picked up by smaller outfits like Burlington Cable in Vermont and Buckeye CableSystem in Ohio. Al Jazeera is also offered by the Globecast WorldTV satellite system and Internet providers JumpTV and Jalipo.
Cable company analysts have said the big carriers have balked not so much because of Al Jazeera’s anti-American reputation but because their channels are already saturated with news shows.