Al Jazeera English will make its cable TV debut in New York City today.
Through a deal to sublet airtime from channel owner WRNN, the channel will now reach an estimated two million or more homes in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island, Westchester County and much of New Jersey, according to The New York Daily News. Al Jazeera English will be simulcast 23 hours a day on WRNN's RISE channel, available in the New York area through Time Warner Cable and Verizon FiOS.
The channel, which received much praise for its coverage of the Arab Spring, has limited U.S. distribution, and has not been picked up by any major U.S. cable or satellite company. It currently airs in the Washington D.C. area through a similar arrangement to the one now set up in New York, according to The New York Times. Just a few other U.S. outlets — including ones in Ohio, Vermont and Los Angeles — carry Al Jazeera English newscasts.
"We will get on in the U.S.," Al Anstey, the managing director of Al Jazeera English, told the Times.
Anstey told the Daily News that the new deal was a "real opportunity" for the organization, and pointed out that one out of 10 visitors to its website are from the New York-area. Anstey also said that WRNN reached out to Al Jazeera over a year ago to discuss a possible deal. (WRNN's RISE had previously aired a Spanish-language network.)
Paul Maxwell, the head of a cable industry consulting firm, told the Times the Al Jazeera English still has a ways to go before it can convince a major company to give it channel space.
“It’s all about leverage in this business, and they don’t have any,” Maxwell said.
Part of the Al Jazeera Network, Al Jazeera English currently reaches 220 million households in more than 100 countries, according to the company.