Al Jazeera (Arabic: الجزيرة, translit. al-jazīrah, IPA: [æl (d)ʒæˈziːrɑ], literally "The Island", though referring to the Arabian Peninsula in context), also known as JSC (Jazeera Satellite Channel), is a state-funded broadcaster in Doha, Qatar, owned by the Al Jazeera Media Network. Initially launched as an Arabic news and current-affairs satellite TV channel, Al Jazeera has since expanded into a network with several outlets, including the Internet and specialty television channels in multiple languages.
Al Jazeera Media Network is a major global news organization, with 80 bureaux around the world. The original Al Jazeera Arabic channel's willingness to broadcast dissenting views, for example on call-in shows, created controversies in the Arab States of the Persian Gulf. The station gained worldwide attention following the outbreak of the war in Afghanistan, when its office there was the only channel to cover the war live.
Al Jazeera Media Network is owned by the government of Qatar. Al Jazeera Media Network has stated that they are editorially independent from the government of Qatar as the network is funded through loans and grants rather than government subsidies. Critics have accused Al Jazeera of being a propaganda outlet for the Qatari government. The network is sometimes perceived to have mainly Islamist perspectives, promoting the Muslim Brotherhood, and having a pro-Sunni and an anti-Shia bias in its reporting of regional issues. However, Al Jazeera insists it covers all sides of a debate; it says it presents Israel's view, Iran's view and even aired videos released by Osama bin Laden. In June 2017, the Saudi, Emirati, Bahraini, and Egyptian governments demanded the closure of the news station as one of thirteen demands made to Qatar during the 2017 Qatar Crisis. Other media networks have spoken out in support of the network. According to The Atlantic magazine, Al Jazeera presents a far more moderate, Westernized face than Islamic jihadism or rigid Sunni orthodoxy, and though the network has been criticized as "an 'Islamist' stalking horse" it actually features "very little specifically religious content in its broadcasts".
|Al Jazeera Channel|
Al Jazeera Arabic
|Launched||1 November 1996|
|Owned by||Al Jazeera Media Network|
|Slogan||"The Opinion and The Other Opinion"|
Al Jazeera English|
Al Jazeera Mubasher
Al Jazeera Balkans
Al Jazeera Documentary Channel
|Website||Al Jazeera Arabic|
|Arabsat||11604 H – 27500 – 3/4|
10972 V – 27500 – 3/4 (SD)|
11219 H – 27500 – 5/6 (HD)
|Hotbird||12111 V – 27500 – 3/4|
|beIN (MENA)||Channel 200 (HD)|
|Canal (France)||Channel 400 (SD)|
|D-Smart (Turkey)||Channel 298 (SD)|
|Virgin Media (UK)||Channel 831|
|Mozaic TV||Channel 100|
|CableVision (Lebanon)||Channel 128|
|Ziggo (Netherlands)||Channel 784|
|Hot (Israel)||Channel 137|
|NetCologne (Germany)||Channel 490 (SD)|
|Mozaic TV (Qatar)||Channel 100 (SD)|
|Fetch TV (Australia)||Channel 187|
|PEO TV (Sri Lanka)||Channel 26|
|Virgin TV Anywhere||Watch live (UK only)|
|Sling TV||Internet Protocol television|
In Arabic, al-ǧazīrah literally means "the island". However, it refers here to the Arabian Peninsula, which is شبه الجزيرة العربية šibh al-ğazīrah al-ʿarabiyyah, abbreviated to الجزيرة العربية al-ğazīrah al-ʿarabiyyah. (Compare the Arabic name al-Jazira (Arabic: الجزيرة, lit. 'the island') for Upper Mesopotamia, another area of land almost entirely surrounded by water.)
Al Jazeera Satellite Channel, now known as AJA, was launched on 1 November 1996 following the closure of the BBC's Arabic language television station, a joint venture with Orbit Communications Company. The BBC channel had closed after a year and a half when the Iranian government attempted to suppress information, including a graphic report on executions and prominent dissident views.
The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa, provided a loan of QAR 500 million (US$137 million) to sustain Al Jazeera through its first five years, as Hugh Miles detailed in his book Al Jazeera: The Inside Story of the Arab News Channel That Is Challenging the West. Shares were held by private investors as well as the Qatar government.
Al Jazeera's first day on the air was 1 November 1996. It offered 6 hours of programming per day; increased to 12 hours by the end of 1997. It was broadcast to the immediate neighborhood as a terrestrial signal, and on cable, as well as through satellites (which was also free to users in the Arab world), although Qatar, and many other Arab countries, barred private individuals from having satellite dishes until 2001.
At the time of the Al Jazeera Media Network launch Arabsat was the only satellite broadcasting to the Middle East, and for the first year could only offer Al Jazeera a weak C-band transponder that needed a large satellite dish for reception. A more powerful Ku-band transponder became available as a peace-offering after its user, Canal France International, accidentally beamed 30 minutes of pornography into ultraconservative Saudi Arabia.
Al Jazeera was not the first such broadcaster in the Middle East; a number had appeared since the Arabsat satellite, a Saudi Arabia-based venture of 21 Arab governments, took orbit in 1985. The unfolding of Operation Desert Storm on CNN International underscored the power of live television in current events. While other local broadcasters in the region would assiduously avoid material embarrassing to their home governments (Qatar had its own official TV station as well), Al Jazeera was pitched as an impartial news source and platform for discussing issues relating to the Arab world.
In presenting "The opinion and the other opinion" (the station's motto), it did not take long for Al Jazeera to shock local viewers by presenting Israelis speaking Hebrew on Arab television for the first time. Lively and far-ranging talk shows, particularly a popular, confrontational one called The Opposite Direction, were a constant source of controversy regarding issues of morality and religion. This prompted a torrent of criticism from the conservative voices among the region's press. It also led to official complaints and censures from neighboring governments. Some jammed Al Jazeera's terrestrial broadcast or expelled its correspondents. In 1999, the Algerian government reportedly cut power to several major cities in order to censor one broadcast. There were also commercial repercussions: Saudi Arabia reportedly pressured advertisers to avoid the channel, to great effect.
Al Jazeera was the only international news network to have correspondents in Iraq during the Operation Desert Fox bombing campaign in 1998. In a precursor of a pattern to follow, its exclusive video clips were highly prized by Western media.
1 January 1999 was Al Jazeera's first day of 24-hour broadcasting. Employment had more than tripled in one year to 500 employees, and the agency had bureaus at a dozen sites as far as EU and Russia. Its annual budget was estimated at about $25 million at the time.
However controversial, Al Jazeera was rapidly becoming one of the most influential news agencies in the whole region. Eager for news beyond the official versions of events, Arabs became dedicated viewers. A 2000 estimate pegged nightly viewership at 35 million, ranking Al Jazeera first in the Arab world, over the Saudi Arabia-sponsored Middle East Broadcasting Centre (MBC) and London's Arab News Network (ANN). There were about 70 satellite or terrestrial channels being broadcast to the Middle East, most of them in Arabic. Al Jazeera launched a free Arabic-language web site in January 2001. In addition, the TV feed was soon available in United Kingdom for the first time via British Sky Broadcasting.
Al Jazeera came to the attention of many in the West during the hunt for Osama bin Laden and the Taliban in Afghanistan after the 11 September 2001 attacks on the United States. It aired videos it received from Osama bin Laden and the Taliban, deeming new footage of the world's most wanted fugitives to be newsworthy. Some criticized the network for giving a voice to terrorists. Al Jazeera's Washington, D.C., bureau chief, Hafez al-Mirazi, compared the situation to that of the Unabomber's messages in The New York Times. The network said it had been given the tapes because it had a large Arab audience.
Many other TV networks were eager to acquire the same footage. CNN International had exclusive rights to it for six hours before other networks could broadcast, a provision that was broken by the others on at least one controversial occasion. Prime Minister Tony Blair soon appeared on an Al Jazeera talk show on 14 November 2001 to state Britain's case for pursuing the Taliban into Afghanistan.
Al Jazeera's prominence rose during the war in Afghanistan because it had opened a bureau in Kabul before the war began. This gave it better access for videotaping events than other networks, which bought Al Jazeera's footage, sometimes for as much as $250,000.
The Kabul office was destroyed by United States bombs in 2001. Looking to stay ahead of possible future conflicts, Al Jazeera then opened bureaux in other troubled spots.
The network remained dependent on government support in 2002, with a budget of $40 million and ad revenues of about $8 million. It also took in fees for sharing its news feed with other networks. It had an estimated 45 million viewers around the world. Al Jazeera soon had to contend with a new rival, Al Arabiya, an offshoot of the Middle East Broadcasting Center, which was set up in nearby Dubai with Saudi financial backing.
Before and during the United States-led invasion of Iraq, where Al Jazeera had a presence since 1997, the network's facilities and footage were again highly sought by international networks. The channel and its web site also were seeing unprecedented attention from viewers looking for alternatives to embedded reporting and military press conferences.
Al Jazeera moved its sports coverage to a new, separate channel on 1 November 2003, allowing for more news and public affairs programming on the original channel. An English language web site had launched earlier in March 2003. The channel had about 1,300 to 1,400 employees, its newsroom editor told The New York Times. There were 23 bureaux around the world and 70 foreign correspondents, with 450 journalists in all.
On 1 April 2003, a United States plane fired on Al Jazeera's Baghdad bureau, killing reporter Tareq Ayyoub. The attack was called a mistake; however, Qatar had supplied the US with a precise map of the location of the bureau in order to spare it from attack.
The closing of the Al Jazeera Media Network was one of the terms of diplomatic reestablishment put forward by Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt during the 2017 Qatar diplomatic crisis.
On 23 June 2017, the countries that cut ties to Qatar issued a list of demands to end the major crisis, insisting that Qatar shut down the Al Jazeera network, close a Turkish military base and scale down ties with Iran. The call, included in a list of 13 points, read: "Shut down Al Jazeera and its affiliate stations.".
Agencies, media outlets, journalists and media rights organisations have decried the demands to close Al Jazeera as attempts to curb press freedom, including Reporters Without Borders; CPJ; IFEX; The Guardian and the New York Times.
Earlier, Saudi and the UAE blocked Al Jazeera websites; Saudi Arabia closed Al Jazeera's bureau in Riyadh and halted its operating licence, accusing the network of promoting "terrorist groups" in the region; and Jordan also revoked the licence for Al Jazeera.
Saudi Arabia also banned hotels from airing Al Jazeera, threatening fines of up to $26,000 for "violators". On 6 June, just days after the Saudi-led group had cut ties with Qatar, Al Jazeera was a victim of a cyber attack on all of its platforms.
Qatari Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani, has said Doha will not discuss the status of Al Jazeera in any negotiations. "Doha rejects discussing any matter related to Al Jazeera channel as it considers it an internal affair," Qatar News Agency quoted the foreign minister as saying. "Decisions concerning the Qatari internal affairs are Qatari sovereignty - and no one has to interfere with them."
The original Al Jazeera channel was launched 1 November 1996 by an emiri decree with a loan of 500 million Qatari riyals (US$137 million) from the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa. By securing its funding through loans or grants rather than direct government subsidies, the channel seeks to maintain independent editorial policy. The channel began broadcasting in late 1996, with many staff joining from the BBC World Service's Saudi-co-owned Arabic-language TV station, which had shut down on 1 April 1996 after two years of operation because of censorship demands by the Saudi Arabian government. The Al Jazeera logo is a decorative representation of the network's name written using Arabic calligraphy. It was selected by the station's founder, Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa, as the winning entry in a design competition.
Al Jazeera restructured its operations to form a network that contains all their different channels. Wadah Khanfar, the then managing director of the Arabic Channel, was appointed as the director general of Al Jazeera Media Network. He also acted as the managing director of the original Arabic Channel. Khanfar resigned on 20 September 2011 proclaiming that he had achieved his original goals, and that 8 years was enough time for any leader of an organization, in an interview aired on Al Jazeera English. Ahmed bin Jassim Al Thani replaced Khanfar and served as the director general of the channel from September 2011 to June 2013 when he was appointed minister of economy and trade. The chairman of the channel is Hamad bin Thamer Al Thani. The Director General and editor-in-chief of the Arabic website is Mostefa Souag, who replaced Ahmed Sheikh as editor-in-chief. It has more than 100 editorial staff. The managing director of Al Jazeera English is Al Anstey. Mohamed Nanabhay became editor-in-chief of the English-language site in 2009. Previous editors include Beat Witschi and Russell Merryman.
Prominent on-air personalities include Faisal al-Qassem, host of the talk show The Opposite Direction, Ahmed Mansour, host of the show Without Borders (bi-la Hudud) and Sami Haddad.
Its former Iran and Beirut Bureau Chief was Ghassan bin Jiddo. He became an influential figure on Al Jazeera with his program Hiwar Maftuh, one of the most frequently watched programs. He also interviewed Nasrallah in 2007 and produced a documentary about Hezbollah. Some suggested that he would even replace Wadah Khanfar. Bin Jiddo resigned after political disagreements with the station.
Ossama AlBayati is an art director for film and television specialized in network branding. Ossama made several projects that received Promax Awards in Dubai, Los Angeles and Europe.
Many governments in the Middle East deploy state-run media or government censorship to impact local media coverage and public opinion, leading to international objections regarding press freedom and biased media coverage. Some scholars and commentators use the notion of contextual objectivity, which highlights the tension between objectivity and audience appeal, to describe the station's controversial yet popular news approach.
Increasingly, Al Jazeera Media Network's exclusive interviews and other footage are being rebroadcast in American, British, and other western media outlets such as CNN and the BBC. In January 2003, the BBC announced that it had signed an agreement with Al Jazeera for sharing facilities and information, including news footage.
Al Jazeera's availability (via satellite) throughout the Middle East changed the television landscape of the region. Prior to the arrival of Al Jazeera, many Middle Eastern citizens were unable to watch TV channels other than state-controlled national TV stations. Al Jazeera introduced a level of freedom of speech on TV that was previously unheard of in many of these countries. Al Jazeera presented controversial views regarding the governments of many Arab states on the Persian Gulf, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar; it also presented controversial views about Syria's relationship with Lebanon, and the Egyptian judiciary. Critics accused Al Jazeera Media Network of sensationalism in order to increase its audience share. Al Jazeera's broadcasts have sometimes resulted in drastic action: for example, when, on 27 January 1999, critics of the Algerian government appeared on the channel's live program El-Itidjah el-Mouakass ("The Opposite Direction"), the Algerian government cut the electricity supply to large parts of the capital Algiers (and allegedly also to large parts of the country) to prevent the program from being seen. By and large, however, Al Jazeera's popularity can be more substantively attributed to its credible and in-depth coverage of issues considered to be of great important to the international Arab population, many of which received minimal attention from other outlets, such as: the Palestinian perspective on the second Intifada, the experiences of Iraqis living through the Iraq war, and the exclusive broadcast of tapes produced by Osama Bin-Laden.
At the time of the aforementioned incident in Algeria, Al Jazeera Media Network was not yet generally known in the Western world, but where it was known, opinion was often favorable and Al Jazeera claimed to be the only politically independent television station in the Middle East. However, it was not until late 2001 that Al Jazeera achieved worldwide recognition, when it broadcast video statements by al-Qaeda leaders.
Some observers have argued that Al Jazeera Media Network has formidable authority as an opinion-maker. Noah Bonsey and Jeb Koogler, for example, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review, argue that the way in which the station covers any future Israeli-Palestinian peace deal could well determine whether or not that deal is actually accepted by the Palestinian public.
The channel's tremendous popularity has also, for better or worse, made it a shaper of public opinion. Its coverage often determines what becomes a story and what does not, as well as how Arab viewers think about issues. Whether in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, or Syria, the stories highlighted and the criticisms aired by guests on Al Jazeera's news programs have often significantly affected the course of events in the region.
In Palestine, the station's influence is particularly strong. Recent polling indicates that in the West Bank and Gaza, Al Jazeera is the primary news source for an astounding 53.4 percent of Palestinian viewers. The second and third most watched channels, Palestine TV and Al Arabiya, poll a distant 12.8 percent and 10 percent, respectively. The result of Al Jazeera's market dominance is that it has itself become a mover and shaker in Palestinian politics, helping to craft public perceptions and influence the debate. This has obvious implications for the peace process: how Al Jazeera covers the deliberations and the outcome of any negotiated agreement with Israel will fundamentally shape how it is viewed—and, more importantly, whether it is accepted—by the Palestinian public.
Al Jazeera's broad availability in the Arab world "operat[ing] with less constraint than almost any other Arab outlet, and remain[ing] the most popular channel in the region", has been perceived as playing a part in the Arab Spring, including the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions. The New York Times stated in January 2011: "The protests rocking the Arab world this week have one thread uniting them: Al Jazeera, ... whose aggressive coverage has helped propel insurgent emotions from one capital to the next." The newspaper quoted Marc Lynch, a professor of Middle East Studies at George Washington University: "They did not cause these events, but it's almost impossible to imagine all this happening without Al Jazeera."
With Al Jazeera's growing global outreach and influence, some scholars including Adel Iskandar have described the station as a transformation of the very definition of "alternative media." Al Jazeera presents a new direction in the discourse of global news flow and shows voices underrepresented by traditional mainstream media regardless global imbalances in the flow of information.
In 2011 Al Jazeera Media Network launched Al Jazeera Balkans based in Sarajevo and serving Bosnia and Herzegovina in Bosnian, Serbian and Croatian. The look and feel of the network is similar to Al Jazeera English.
In March 2003 it launched an English-language website.
On 4 July 2005 Al Jazeera officially announced plans to launch a new English-language satellite service to be called Al Jazeera International. The new channel started at 12h GMT on 15 November 2006 under the name Al Jazeera English and has broadcast centers in Doha (next to the original Al Jazeera headquarters and broadcast center), London, Kuala Lumpur and Washington D.C. The channel is a 24-hour, 7-days-a-week news channel, with 12 hours broadcast from Doha, and four hours each from London, Kuala Lumpur, and Washington D.C.
Al Jazeera launched an English language channel, originally called Al Jazeera International, in 2006. Among its staff were journalists hired from ABC's Nightline and other top news outfits. Josh Rushing, a former media handler for CENTCOM during the Iraq war, agreed to provide commentary; David Frost was also on board. In an interesting technical feat, the broadcast of the new operation was handed off between bases in Doha, London, Washington, D.C., and Kuala Lumpur on a daily cycle.
The new English language venture faced considerable regulatory and commercial hurdles in the North America market for its perceived sympathy with extremist causes. At the same time, others felt Al Jazeera's competitive advantage lay in programming in the Arabic language. There were hundreds of millions of potential viewers among the non-Arabic language speaking Muslims in Europe and Asia, however, and many others who might be interested in seeing news from the Middle East read by local voices. If the venture panned out, it would extend the influence of Al Jazeera, and tiny Qatar, beyond even what had been achieved in the station's first decade. In an interesting twist of fate, the BBC World Service was preparing to launch its own Arabic language station in 2007. Today, evidence of U.S. antipathy at the Arabic network has dissipated significantly, though not entirely, several analysts say.
In January 2013, Al Jazeera Media Network purchased Current TV, which was partially owned by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore. Using part of Current TV's infrastructure, Al Jazeera launched an American news channel on 20 August 2013.
Though Current TV had large distribution throughout the United States on cable and satellite television, it averaged only 28,000 viewers at any time. The acquisition of Current TV by Al Jazeera allowed Time Warner Cable to drop the network due to its low ratings, but they released a statement saying that they would consider carrying the channel after they evaluated whether it made sense for their customers. Time Warner Cable later began carrying Al Jazeera America in December 2013.
In August 2014 Gore and fellow shareholder Joel Hyatt launched a lawsuit against Al Jazeera claiming a residual payment of $65 million of the sale proceeds, due in 2014, remained unpaid. Al Jazeera later announced a countersuit. In 2016, the case was settled outside of court on the basis of a mutual agreement, under which: Gore and Hyatt had their claims waived, Al Jazeera was ordered to pay the $2.35 million in legal fees incurred by the plaintiffs, and the network forfeited its rights to pursue any indemnification claims related to the ordeal.
On 13 January 2016, Al Jazeera America CEO Al Anstey announced that the network would cease operations on 12 April 2016, citing the "economic landscape".
beIN SPORTS, formerly Al Jazeera Sport channels, was legally separated from Al Jazeera Media Network on 1 January 2014 and is now controlled by beIN Media Group.
beIN SPORTS currently operates three channels in France – beIN Sport 1, beIN Sport 2 and beIN Sport MAX – and launched two channels in the United States (English and Spanish) in August 2012. The network also has a Canadian Channel and holds Canadian broadcast rights to several sports properties, The network also has an Australian channel.
beIN Sport holds the rights to broadcast major football tournaments on French television, including Ligue 1, Bundesliga, the UEFA Champions League and the European Football Championships. In the United States and Canada, beIN Sport holds the rights to broadcast La Liga, Serie A, Ligue 1, Copa del Rey, South American World Cup Qualifier and English Championship matches, in addition to Barca TV.
In October 2009 Al Jazeera acquired six sports channels of the ART. On 26 November 2009 Al Jazeera English received approval from the CRTC, which enables Al Jazeera English to broadcast via satellite in Canada.
The original Al Jazeera channel is available worldwide through various satellite and cable systems. For availability info of the Al Jazeera network's other TV channels, see their respective articles. Segments of Al Jazeera English are uploaded to YouTube.
Europe, Northern Africa and the Middle East. Al Jazeera can be freely viewed with a DVB-S receiver in Europe, Northern Africa and the Middle East as it is broadcast on the Astra 1M, Eutelsat Hot Bird 13A, Eutelsat 10A, Badr 4, Turksat 2A, Thor 6, Nilesat 102, Hispasat 1C and Eutelsat 28A satellites. The Optus C1 satellite in Australia carries the channel for free and from July 2012 is available at no extra charge to all subscribers to Australia's Foxtel pay-TV service.
Canada. Al Jazeera is available in Canada on Bell Channel 516, as part of the package "International News I." Al Jazeera is available on Rogers Cable individually. Al Jazeera is also available on Shaw Cable TV Channel 513, as part of the package "Multicultural"
India. On 7 December 2010, Al Jazeera said its English language service has got a downlink license to broadcast in India. Satellite and cable companies would therefore be allowed to broadcast Al Jazeera in the country. The broadcaster will be launched soon on Dish TV, and is considering a Hindi-language channel.
United Kingdom. Al Jazeera English is available on the Sky and Freesat satellite platforms, as well as the standard terrestrial service (branded Freeview), thus making it available to the vast majority of UK households. On 26 November 2013 it launched a HD simulcast on certain terrestrial transmitters.
United States. Al Jazeera English is mainly available online via its live stream on its website, DVB-S, Galaxy 19 and Galaxy 23 C-band satellites. Following the launch of Al Jazeera America in 2013 until 2016 when the channel folded, Al Jazeera English was not available in the United States. It had been available through live streaming over the Al Jazeera website, DVB-S, Galaxy 19, free to air and Galaxy 23 satellites, and it had been broadcast over the air in the Washington, DC DMA by WNVC on digital channel 30-5, and on digital channel 48.2 in the New York metro area, but those broadcasts were discontinued on 20 August 2013. Al Jazeera English had also been available to cable TV viewers in Toledo, Ohio, Burlington, Vermont, New York City (WRNN rebroadcast), Washington State, and Washington, D.C (a rebroadcast of WNVC's feed), but those sources were switched to Al Jazeera America on 20 August 2013. Many analysts had considered the limited availability of Al Jazeera English in the United States to be effectively a "blackout". The live stream and programming over the internet that had been geoblocked was made available to viewers in the United States again in September, 2016.
Online. Al Jazeera English can be viewed over the Internet from their official website. The low-resolution version is available free of charge to users of computers and video streaming boxes, and the high-resolution version is available under subscription fees through partner sites. Al Jazeera's English division has also partnered with Livestation for Internet-based broadcasting. This enables Al Jazeera English and Al Jazeera live to be watched worldwide, with the exception of English in the United States.
Al Jazeera Media Network's web-based service is accessible subscription-free throughout the world, at a variety of websites. The station launched an English-language edition of its online content in March 2003. This English language website was relaunched on 15 November 2006, along with the launch of Al Jazeera English. The English and Arabic sections are editorially distinct, with their own selection of news and comment. Al Jazeera and Al Jazeera English are streamed live on the official site, as well as on YouTube. On 13 April 2009 Al Jazeera launched versions of its English and Arabic sites suitable for mobile devices.
The Arabic version of the site was brought offline for about 10 hours by an FBI raid on its ISP, InfoCom Corporation, on 5 September 2001. InfoCom was later convicted of exporting to Syria and Gaddafi-ruled Libya, of knowingly being invested in by a Hamas member (both of which are illegal in the United States), and of underpaying customs duties.
in 2014 Al Jazeera Media Network launched an online only channel called AJ+. The channel is based out of the former Current TV studios in San Francisco and has outposts in Doha, Kuala Lumpur and other locations. It is independent of all of Al Jazeera's other channels and is mostly in an on demand format. The channel launched on 13 June 2014 on with a preview on YouTube. This was followed in 2017 by the launch of Jetty, a podcast network which is also based out of the former Current TV studios in San Francisco.
Al Jazeera recently launched a Mandarin-language news website. It is the first Arabic news provider to target the Chinese audience. The staff of the project will be in contact with their audience via Chinese social media like Weibo, Meipai and WeChat.
On 13 January 2009 Al Jazeera Media Network released some of its broadcast quality footage from Gaza under a Creative Commons license. Contrary to business "All Rights Reserved" standards, the license invites third parties, including rival broadcasters, to reuse and remix the footage, so long as Al Jazeera is credited. The videos are hosted on blip.tv, which allows easy downloading and integration with Miro.
Al Jazeera Media Network also offers over 2,000 Creative Commons-licensed still photos at their Flickr account.
Al Jazeera Media Network accepts user-submitted photos and videos about news events through a Your Media page, and this content may be featured on the website or in broadcasts.
Future projects in other languages include Al Jazeera Urdu, an Urdu language channel to cater mainly to Pakistanis. A Kiswahili service called Al Jazeera Kiswahili was to be based in Nairobi and broadcast in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. However, those plans were cancelled due to budget constraints.
The channel also has plans to launch a Spanish-language news network to cater mainly to Spain and Hispanic America, like the Iranian cable TV network HispanTV. Al Jazeera has also been reported to be planning to launch an international newspaper. Al Jazeera Arabic began using a chroma key studio on 13 September 2009. Similar to Sky News, Al Jazeera broadcast from that studio while the channel's main newsroom was given a new look. The channel relaunched, with new graphics and music along with a new studio, on 1 November 2009, the 13th birthday of the channel.
While Al Jazeera has a large audience in the Middle East, the organization and the original Arabic channel in particular have been criticised and involved in a number of controversies.
In May 2000 Bahrain banned Al Jazeera's broadcasts due to the channel's comments about Bahrain's municipal elections, labelling it as "serving Zionism".
Several Al Jazeera staff were killed by U.S. Military "friendly-fire" incidents. The United States controlled Iraqi interim government closed the offices of Al Jazeera in Baghdad in August 2004 during the United States occupation on Iraq. Then United States appointed Iraqi prime minister Iyad Allawi accused the channel of "inciting hatred" in the country. At the end of April 2013, the Iraqi government led by Nouri Al Maliki once again ordered Al Jazeera to stop broadcasting due to the alleged role of the channel in "encouraging the sectarian unrest". In response to the restrictions imposed by Al Maliki, Al Jazeera issued a statement in which the organization expressed its astonishment at the development, and reiterated their assertion that, "We cover all sides of the stories in Iraq, and have done for many years." The network further objected to the ban, saying, "The fact that so many channels have been hit all at once though suggests this is an indiscriminate decision. We urge the authorities to uphold freedom for the media to report the important stories taking place in Iraq."
During the 2011 Egyptian protests, on 30 January the Egyptian government ordered the TV channel to close its offices. The next day Egyptian security forces arrested six Al Jazeera journalists for several hours and seized their camera equipment. There were also reports of disruption in Al Jazeera Mubasher's Broadcast to Egypt. The channel was also criticized for being sympathetic to Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood and former IAEA director Mohammed ElBaradei. It was closed for the same reasons in September 2013. Twenty-two members of staff of Al Jazeera's Egyptian bureau announced their resignation on 8 July 2013, citing biased coverage of the ongoing Egyptian power redistribution in favour of the Muslim Brotherhood. Al Jazeera says that the resignations were due to pressure from the Egyptian military.
Al Jazeera has been criticized over unfair coverage of the Syrian civil war. The channel's reporting has been described as largely supportive of the rebels, while demonizing the Syrian government. The Lebanese newspaper As-Safir cited outtakes of interviews showing that the channel's staff coached Syrian eyewitnesses and fabricated reports of oppression by Syria's government. In January 2013, a former Al Jazeera employee from Syria stated their belief that there was ongoing strong pressure to conform to biased coverage of the Syrian civil war. However, according to Pew Research Center study, in its coverage of the Syrian crisis, Al Jazeera America cable news channel provided viewers with content that often resembles what Americans saw on other U.S. cable news outlets.
The Indian government banned the Al Jazeera TV channel in April 2015 for five telecast days as it repeatedly displayed disputed maps of India. The Surveyor General of India (SGI) had observed that in some of the maps displayed by Al Jazeera, "a portion of Indian territory of Jammu and Kashmir (i.e. PoK and Aksai Chin) has not been shown as a part of Indian territory." According to the statement, the suspension of its broadcast concerns maps of Pakistan used in 2013 and 2014 that did not demarcate the part of Kashmir under Pakistani control (Pakistan-occupied Kashmir or PoK) as a separate territory. Once notified by Indian authorities, the channel said it ensured all maps from Sept. 22, 2014, onward used dotted lines and unique shading for the disputed portions.
On 19 July 2008, Al Jazeera TV broadcast a program from Lebanon that covered the "welcome-home" festivities for Samir Kuntar, a Lebanese terrorist who had been imprisoned in Israel for killing several people in a Palestine Liberation Front raid from Lebanon into Israel. In the program, the head of Al Jazeera's Beirut office, Ghassan bin Jiddo, praised Kuntar as a "pan-Arab hero" and organized a birthday party for him. In response, Israel's Government Press Office (GPO) announced a boycott of the channel, which was to include a general refusal by Israeli officials to be interviewed by the station, and a ban on its correspondents from entering government offices in Jerusalem. A few days later an official letter was issued by Al Jazeera's director general, Wadah Khanfar, in which he admitted that the program violated the station's Code of Ethics and that he had ordered the channel's programming director to take steps to ensure that such an incident does not recur.
Immediately after its launch in 2003, the English site was attacked by one or several hackers, who launched denial-of-service attacks, and another hacker who redirected visitors to a site featuring an American flag. Both events were widely reported as Al Jazeera's website having been attacked by "hackers". In November 2003, John William Racine II, also known as 'John Buffo', was sentenced to 1,000 hours of community service and a $1,500 U.S. fine for the online disruption. Racine posed as an Al Jazeera employee to get a password to the network's site, then redirected visitors to a page he created that showed an American flag shaped like a U.S. map and a patriotic motto, court documents said. In June 2003, Racine pleaded guilty to wire fraud and unlawful interception of an electronic communication. As of 2012, the perpetrators of the denial-of-service attacks remain unknown.
Shariah and Life (al-Sharīʿa wa al-Ḥayāh) is an Al Jazeera Arabic show with an estimated audience of 60 million worldwide and stars Muslim preacher Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who is described as "Islam's Spiritual 'Dear Abby'". The format of Sharia and Life is similar to that of al-Qaradawi's earlier programing on Qatar TV as well as Egyptian television shows going as far back as the 1960s. Programs interpreting the Quran or dealing with religious issues were popular from Morocco to Saudi Arabia. The now defunct show has been the repeated subject of controversy. In January 2009, Qaradawi stated: "Throughout history, Allah has imposed upon the [Jews] people who would punish them for their corruption. The last punishment was carried out by [Adolf] Hitler." In October 2010, Qaradawi was asked if Muslims should acquire nuclear weapons "to terrorize their enemies." Qaradawi said he was pleased Pakistan had such a weapon, that the goal of nuclear weapons would be permissible, and provided religious justification quoting Koranic verses urging Muslims "to terrorize thereby the enemy of God and your enemy."
Al Jazeera Media Network is owned by the government of Qatar. While Al Jazeera has stated that they are editorially independent from the government of Qatar, this assertion has been disputed.
In 2010 United States Department of State internal communications, released by WikiLeaks as part of the 2010 diplomatic cables leak, said that the Qatar government manipulates Al Jazeera coverage to suit political interests.
In September 2012 The Guardian reported that Al Jazeera's editorial independence came into question when the channel's director of news, Salah Negm, stepped in at the last minute to order that a two-minute video covering a UN debate over the Syrian civil war include a speech by the leader of Qatar, Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. Staff members protested that the speech was not the most important aspect of the debate, and that it was a repetition of previous calls for Arab intervention. The Guardian also said in September 2012 that Qatar had taken steps in recent years to consolidate control of Al Jazeera English.
The name "Al Jazeera" means "peninsula."