Al Jazeera won major praise for its coverage of the Arab Spring uprisings earlier this year, but the news channel remained virtually invisible in the US—until now. Starting today, Al Jazeera English begins broadcasting in New York City, reports the New York Times. For now, the channel is just subletting space from a former Spanish-language channel, similar to how it found airspace in DC, but Al Jazeera executives say they are determined to grow the operation. “We will get on in the US," said Al Jazeera's managing director.
Without a powerful parent company, Al Jazeera has found it nearly impossible to get onto the big cable platforms. “It’s all about leverage in this business, and they don’t have any,” said one television analyst. Spun off in 2006 from Al Jazeera Arabic, the channel has been derided by former President George W. Bush and others for anti-American propaganda. But the operation's leaders have worked hard to improve US perceptions of its content. “I think every American should have the right to watch Al Jazeera English in any medium they want,” said the channel's US bureau chief.