Al-Jazeera's English language offshoot begins in relative silence in the U.S.

Tuesday, November 14th 2006, 8:25 pm
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) Al-Jazeera's English-language network is set to begin operation on Wednesday without any distribution by a major cable or satellite system in the United States.

The all-news network, based in Doha, Qatar, said it would be available to computer users via a broadband Internet connection. But despite months of trying and delays in its launch date, it named only four companies available in the United States that would offer it.

The network also has appeared to have changed its name. Formerly Al-Jazeera International, it was referred to as Al-Jazeera English throughout a news release issued on Tuesday. Company representatives did not immediately return calls for comment.

Talks broke down between Al-Jazeera and one major cable company, Comcast, Variety reported on Monday.

Al-Jazeera English will be available to customers of GlobeCast, the subsidiary of a French company that offers satellite TV service costing around $300 to install. The other companies Al-Jazeera English said it had agreements with are Fision, a digital service that will be available shortly in Houston; Jump TV, which describes itself as ``the world's leading broadcaster of ethnic TV over the Internet; and VDC, a service that offers TV on the Internet to about 10,000 customers in the U.S.

Elsewhere around the globe, Al-Jazeera English said the picture is brighter. The network said it would be available via cable or satellite in more than 80 million homes, or double its launch target of 40 million.