Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Al Jazeera to Tone Down Its Footage for British Viewers

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Al Jazeera to Tone Down Its Footage for British Viewers

Article excerpt


GRAPHIC images of war will be watered down in the English language spin-off of Al Jazeera.

Footage of the dead and dying routinely feature on the controversial Arab TV network, which critics have attacked for its "pornography of violence".

But such scenes will be edited out of the 24-hour channel Al Jazeera International when it launches worldwide this summer.

Managing director Nigel Parsons said: "Al Jazeera showed the ugly side of war when others were trying to sanitise it and I firmly believe it's our duty to show both sides. But the issue of graphic images is largely cultural.

"What's acceptable in the Middle East isn't here and we have an Ofcom licence in the UK so we have to comply with that."

The Briton said the channel, to be broadcast on a single signal, had to "go for the highest standards of taste and decency" but it would not shy away from showing hostages or al Qaeda pronouncements.

"Al Jazeera has a very strong stance that it does not condone kidnapping but the reality is these hostage tapes are shown at the family's behest because they want it broadcast," he said. "And if we were to receive any future Bin Laden tape then it would be perceived on its newsworthiness."

The channel, broadcast from Doha, London, Washington and Kuala Lumpur, will launch in the UK on Sky and Freesat. It will be half rolling news and half a mix of documentaries, business, culture and a women's slot made in the Middle East. About 600 staff have been appointed, including 100 at offices in Knightsbridge.

Al Jazeera International has poached international journalists, including Rageh Omaar, who will front nightly documentary Witness, and Sir David Frost, who will host interviews with world leaders.

Mr Parsons refused to comment on rumours that Tony Blair and Prince Charles are among those who have agreed to interviews.

He said: "We've already started making pilots in Doha and we'll start in London in May. " He said the service "will look like no other channel". "It will be much easier to watch as TV," he said.

"If you take business, we're approaching it not just as 'here's what's on the markets' or another daily business show, we'll be looking at the movers and shakers. …

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