Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Al Jazeera on Singapore’s Singtel MioTV

It was reported in Straits Times yesterday that Al Jazeera has received permission to be broadcast in Singapore on Singtel’s pay-TV service, MioTV. A few questions may come to our mind:

What is Al Jazeera?

“Jazeera” means island. According to International Herald Tribune’s article titled “How Al Jazeera can go up a gear”, Al Jazeera is a Qatar-based TV which is owned by the royal family of Qatar. It launched its English Service, Al Jazeera International, on 15 November 2006 and has obtained TV rights in several countries and regions such as United States and the Latin America.

Who is in Al Jazeera?

According to Mediachannel.org, Al Jazeera has assembled a team of TV pros from BBC, APTN, ITV, CNN and CNBC, among others, and will have 40 bureaus worldwide with broadcast centres in Doha, Kuala Lumpur, London and Washington. Some of the journalists’ names include Peggy Holter, Josh Rushing and Mark Teboe. The Programming Director, Paul Gibbs worked with BBC and Discovery Channel previously. It would also be interesting to take a look at their code of ethics.

Has Al Jazeera received any criticisms on its coverage since it’s a Middle Eastern TV station?

United States President George Bush and his administrative leaders have called the station’s coverage inflammatory and misleading for its journalistic style biased in favour of Arab causes. Al Jazeera has also attracted numerous criticisms and controversies with regard to the war on terrorism:

The most famous controversy would have to be the false allegation over the telecast of videos of masked terrorists beheading western hostages in Iraq. Other controversies include the broadcasting of Osama bin Laden’s videos. In those videos, Osama defended and justified the New York’s World Trade Centre attacks on September 11, 2001. US accused Al Jazeera of engaging in propaganda for the terrorists.

Shocking enough? It seems Al Jazeera is not going to be another ordinary TV station seeking to increase its viewership base worldwide and their coming to Singapore is going to make a big difference to the already well-controlled mainstream media. Al Jazeera is certainly going to influence the way we see the world with more war news and gory scenes, and with more controversial issues such as the Singapore-Burma ties which has recently caused an embarassment to our Singapore government. Tony Birtley of Al Jazeera reported in the following video which includes interviews with Chee Siok Chin of SDP and Alex Au of yawningbread.org:

Al-Jazeera can be broadcast in S'pore: officials

Al-JAZEERA'S English channel has received permission to be broadcast in the city-state, the government said on Monday.

The Arab broadcaster's English news service will be available to subscribers of Singapore Telecommunications' (SingTel) pay-TV service, the Media Development Authority (MDA) said in a statement.

'MDA has approved SingTel's application to offer the Al-Jazeera English channel on MioTV - its IPTV (Internet Protocol television) service,' Amy Chua, MDA's director for media content division, said in the statement. Officials did not say when Al-Jazeera would go on the air.

Qatar-based Al-Jazeera has said it will provide an alternative perspective to international news channels based in Europe and the United States. Al-Jazeera's Arabic service, which celebrated its 10th anniversary in November 2006, has revolutionised news media in the Arab world, but it has also stirred controversy.

It gained worldwide recognition mainly due to its broadcast of videotapes issued by Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden. -- AFP


Preetam Rai said...

AL Jazeera is also one of the few enlightened networks that releases its stories on Youtube so that we are able to link to them and refer to them. I think other networks have a lot to learn from AlJazeera in terms of how to engage the web.

shsuya said...

I applaud the move to allow Al-Jazeera to be shown on Singapore TV. Its long due that we should be given exposure to news other than that which speaks with a Western voice. BBC, CNN, even CNA all speak with the same voice, giving us one side of the story. Al-Jazeera hopefully will provide some balance and help us see things from the other side of the wall.

The Pro Bono Columnist said...

Agreed, I think it's great that we're getting alternative sources giving different viewpoints. It'll open up some horizons.