US viewers tune into Al Jazeera

Al Jazeera's English language news channel is being watched by an increasing number of Americans despite a lack of interest from major US cable and satellite providers, according to Nigel Parsons, managing director of Al Jazeera's English service.

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Al Jazeera's English language news channel is being watched by an increasing number of Americans despite a lack of interest from major US cable and satellite providers, according to Nigel Parsons, managing director of Al Jazeera's English service.

Parsons stated that since the channel's debut late last year, worldwide viewership had grown to more than 100 million households across Europe and Africa, and in parts of Asia.

The channel's viewership is also growing in the US, despite the service being shunned by major cable or satellite providers in the country who say there is no market, he added.

"Our service is available via broadband...we now have tens of thousands of subscribers in America, dispelling the notion that Americans aren't interested in foreign news," Parsons said at a branding forum in Singapore.

He also claimed a distribution tie-up between the network and YouTube has been "an astonishing success", with almost 100,000 viewers downloading videos every week, and many of them from the US.
 

In America, Burlington Telecom is one of the few cable companies to offer Al Jazeera in its cable packages. The company serves 1200 households in Vermont's largest city.

The Arab-operated network has previously said they blamed a decision by major US cable and satellite carriers not to carry the channel on political pressure. "At a time when much of the Western media is moving toward lightweight, celebrity-driven news...we believe serious times require serious journalism," Parsons said. "Do we really care so much about Paris Hilton?"

The station, which runs broadcast newsrooms in Doha, Kuala Lumpur, London and Washington, has hired more than 500 people so far.

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