skip to main content (press enter)

CBC Global Header Navigation


Al-Jazeera English gets CRTC approval

Signal to start early in new year

Last Updated: Thursday, November 26, 2009 | 3:40 PM ET

Al-Jazeera English, the English-language service of the Qatar-based broadcaster, has been approved for distribution via satellite in Canada.

Ethnic Channels Group Ltd., a Toronto-based satellite service, had applied in February to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission for permission to carry Al-Jazeera English.

On Thursday, the federal regulator approved the request, clearing the way for Al-Jazeera to be carried via digital satellite. The network could become available to subscribers by January or February.

'AJE will expand the diversity of editorial points of view in the Canadian broadcasting system.'

—CRTC decision

"The commission notes the substantial support for the addition of AJE to the digital lists and considers that AJE will expand the diversity of editorial points of view in the Canadian broadcasting system," the CRTC said in its decision.

"Further, despite concerns expressed by certain parties, there is nothing on the record of the current proceeding that leads the commission to conclude that AJE would violate Canadian regulations, such as those regarding abusive comment."

Jewish concerns

The Canadian Jewish Congress and B'nai Brith Canada had expressed concerns about how balanced Al-Jazeera's reporting would be, but they neither opposed nor supported the application. The Jewish organizations instead urged vigilance in case the news service engages in Holocaust denial or other anti-Semitic statements.

The CJC also urged the CRTC to ensure Al-Jazeera English remains independent from its Arabic-language counterpart.

Honest Reporting Canada, an organization that describes itself as "dedicated to defending Israel against prejudice in the media," cited two examples of Al-Jazeera English's journalism that it said did not meet Canadian standards of accuracy and balance, but it did not officially oppose the application.

Ethnic Channels Group argued before the regulator that Al-Jazeera English, which has been operating since 2006 in more than 100 countries, has a good track record of accuracy and balance.

The 24-hour international news service is an arm of Al-Jazeera, the news channel based in Doha, Qatar, that some consider controversial because of, among other things, its reporters' access to al-Qaeda.

Tony Burman, the former head of CBC News who is Al-Jazeera English's managing director, said he believes Canadians will welcome the international news service.

'Respected around the world'

"We're now seen in more than 180 million households in more than 100 countries. The political baggage that is associated with Al-Jazeera is really limited to the United States and thankfully no longer in Canada. I think the brand of Al-Jazeera is respected around the world," he told CBC News on Thursday.

"It's is not obsessed at all with the Middle Eastern stories, as important as they may be. You'll see Africa, you'll see North America, you'll see Asia. You'll see countries and, dare I say, even continents that are often not even mentioned in North American media today. I think Canada, as one of the most multicultural countries in the world, I think will appreciate that."

Al-Jazeera has a large international network of correspondents, including many in parts of Africa and Asia that are neglected by other news networks.

It also has a large Washington bureau and plans to open a bureau in Canada, Burman said.

Corrections and Clarifications

  • The group called Honest Reporting Canada did not oppose the application by Al-Jazeera English as earlier reported. November 26, 2009 | 1:29 p.m. ET


    More TV Headlines

    CBC shows anti-U.S. 'melodrama': WikiLeaks Video
    U.S. diplomats in Ottawa wrote to Washington that the CBC pushes "insidious negative popular stereotyping" with "anti-American melodrama" in its entertainment TV programs, according to documents released by WikiLeaks.
    Dino Dan wins $50K kids TV prize
    Dino Dan, a series about a pre-teen dinosaur expert that mixes live action and computer-generated footage, has won the 2010 Shaw Rocket Prize for best children's TV program.
    Entertainment Tonight creator Masini dies
    Alfred Masini, the prolific TV producer who created Entertainment Tonight, Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous and other hit lifestyle shows, has died at the age of 80.
    The Young and the Restless renewed
    Melodrama, romance and intrigue will continue in Genoa City after CBS announced the renewal of longtime daytime series The Young and the Restless — a bright spot for soap fans amid the genre's overall slide.
    Don Martin to host political show Power Play
    Newspaper columnist Don Martin has been named the new host of CTV News Channel's political show Power Play.

    More Arts Headlines

    Spider-Man working out bugs for Broadway debut
    The mix of circus, theatre and rock show that is Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark opened for previews on the Broadway stage this week, with a less-than-perfect performance that had critics cringing.
    U.S. critics name The Social Network best film
    The National Board of Review, an influential U.S. group of film critics, historians and students, has chosen The Social Network as the year's best film.
    Sundance Film Festival expands lineup
    Denis Villeneuve's Incendies, a new documentary from Supersize Me filmmaker Morgan Spurlock and the gory Nova Scotian indie thriller Hobo With a Shotgun are a few of the titles to screen at the Sundance Film Festival in January.
    Degas art stolen in 1973 will return to France
    An Edgar Degas painting that was stolen 37 years ago and recovered earlier this year in New York will be returned to France, U.S. officials said Thursday.
    Sports media deals could leave consumers on hook
    The average consumer could end up footing the bill if companies like Rogers and BCE scoops up billions of dollars worth of media, entertainment and sports properties.

    People who read this also read …

    Top Headlines


    Forces need same scrutiny as police: MP
    Canadian military forces should face the same level of oversight as law enforcement agencies, a Liberal MP said after details were unveiled of two probes into the behaviour of a Canadian covert elite unit in Afghanistan.
    Canada-Afghan relations safe: Afghan ambassador VideoAudio
    Afghanistan's ambassador to Canada says criticism of his president by Canada's ambassador to Afghanistan should not affect relations between the two countries.
    Microbe shows arsenic-based life possible Video
    Researchers have discovered an organism that can use arsenic as a chemical building block for life.
    Many Canada Post contractors lack security check
    One-quarter of the private contractors Canada Post hires to deliver mail across the country have never received a required security clearance, CBC News has learned.
    Arrest in Toronto library crossbow killing Video
    Police have made an arrest in the crossbow slaying of a man in a library in Toronto's east end.