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Al Jazeera makes its American debut

Al Jazeera America premiered this week albeit to a limited audience.

The new channel, which started broadcasting on Tuesday 20 August was expected to be carried by five of the country’s 10 biggest television providers, but one of those, AT&T U-verse, dropped it late Monday night.

This development and the company’s decision that Al Jazeera English will no longer be available on TV or as an online stream in the US after the new channel’s launch, further limited Al Jazeera America’s potential audience on Day 1.

The broadcaster claims its new schedule “fulfils its promise to provide unbiased in-depth coverage of domestic and international news important to its American viewers”.

NY Times reports Ehab Al Shihabi, interim chief executive of Al Jazeera America, saying “there will be less opinion, less yelling and fewer celebrity sightings” on the channel. He added, “we are not infotainment. We are in-depth and informative.”

Al Jazeera America, employing up to 900 journalists in 12 US city bases, plans to be available in almost 48 million US households and to offer 14 hours of live US and international news programming each day.

The new network replaces Current TV, the cable television network founded by former US Vice President Al Gore, which the Qatar-owned broadcaster acquired in January 2013 for around $US500million.