Al-Jazeera America debuts as newest news network
NEW YORK (AP) — Al-Jazeera America signed on with a brisk hello from anchor Tony Harris before he got down to business with his network's first stories: continued turmoil in Egypt, shots fired at an Atlanta elementary school and more wildfires in the West.
With that, the network entered the cable news fray long dominated by CNN, MSNBC and Fox News Channel.
The Qatar-based Al-Jazeera Media Network launched its U.S. outlet only eight months after announcing the new venture, which replaced Al Gore's Current TV in more than 45 million TV homes Tuesday.
An hour before settling into its regular schedule at 4 p.m. Eastern time, the network aired a prerecorded preview of its programming and goals.
"We are here to tell the story the way it happens, as it happens," anchor Antonio Mora said as the preview began.
At the same time, the Al-Jazeera English network was suspended. It had been available since 2006 online and in a scattering of cable systems.
Headquartered in New York, Al-Jazeera America has vowed to provide unbiased, in-depth domestic and global news. It aims to strike a contrast to the "news talk" often favored by its Big Three competitors. (Its promotional tagline: "There's more to it.")
Ehab Al Shihabi, interim CEO for Al-Jazeera America, listens during an interview overlooking the newsroom, after the network's first broadcast on Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013 in New York. The Qatar-based Al-Jazeera Media Network launched its U.S. outlet only eight months after announcing the new venture, which on Tuesday replaced Al Gore's Current TV in more than 45 million TV homes. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
It has hired a number of veterans of U.S. television, including Harris, a CNN alum, and Mora, previously at ABC News. Other familiar faces include Sheila MacVicar (formerly of CBS News), Soledad O'Brien (NBC News and CNN), Joie Chen (CNN and CBS News) and John Seigenthaler (NBC News).
Scheduled programs include a nightly newscast anchored by Seigenthaler; "Consider This," a current-affairs hour hosted by Mora; "America Tonight," a newsmagazine described as the network's flagship telecast anchored by Chen; and "Real Money" with former CNN business correspondent Ali Velshi.
Besides New York, domestic bureaus are in Washington, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, Detroit, Chicago, Denver, Miami, Seattle, New Orleans and Nashville, Tenn.
The new network also will draw from the 70 bureaus parent Al-Jazeera operates globally.
Al-Jazeera Media claimed an instant U.S. foothold with its $500 million purchase of Current TV and the cable distribution of that little-watched network. Al-Jazeera America also is available from satellite providers DirecTV and Dish Network.