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Preparing to Launch, Al Jazeera America Struggles to Overcome Qatari Ties

Al Jazeera America (AJA) will launch in just over a month, a senior staffer confirmed on Monday. Ali Velshi – a Canadian who was CNN’s chief business correspondent and will now be one of AJA’s regular anchors – tweeted that the channel would begin broadcasts on August 20.

Al Jazeera English (AJE) was launched worldwide in 2006, and will continue to be shown in those U.S. locales that now carry it. Some 40% of AJA’s content will also be taken from AJE.

The station’s funding and ties to the Qatari regime may, however, limit its influence in the United States. Al Jazeera has been dogged by accusations that, rather than being an independent news outlet, it promotes the Qatari regime’s foreign policy. Dozens of employees have resigned in recent weeks over editorial control exerted by Doha in favor of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. speculated this week that the dynamic may damage the reception AJA recieves.

Qatar itself has recently come under criticism for supporting Islamists across the region – up to and including including Hamas – and for alleged bribery in acquiring the 2022 World Cup. Criticism has in particular been leveled regarding the slave-like conditions in which foreign workers for that event are being kept.

AJA, which will be headquartered in New York, has hired no fewer than 650 new employees in the United States. It has also secured several popular anchors, including CNN anchors Soledad O’Brien and Richelle Carey.

[Photo: WSJDigitalNetwork / Youtube]