Variety’s Ali Jafaar reports that the English-language offshoot of the Arab broadcaster failed to reach a deal with Comcast Corp. that would have helped it “gain a beachhead in the U.S.” It plans a worldwide launch on Wednesday. Sources within the network believe that the reasons for Comcast’s withdrawal have to do with uncertainties about the network’s editorial agenda. But a Comcast spokeswoman says that “it comes down to a capacity question. We’re not adding a lot of new channels.” There’s still talks with Dish and DirecTV, and it also will be available on broadband. David Frost, CNN anchor Riz Khan and former “Nightline” correspondent Dave Marash will be on the network.
Update: Al-Jazeera’s launch on Wednesday came with no major U.S. distribution but some 80 million homes around the world. According to the AP, the other companies Al-Jazeera English said it had agreements with are Fision, a digital service that will be available shortly in Houston; Jump TV, which describes itself as “the world’s leading broadcaster of ethnic TV over the Internet; and VDC, a service that offers TV on the Internet to about 10,000 customers in the U.S. The channel is aiming to distinguish itself from the BBC and CNN International with a greater emphasis on covering developing nations.
The Washington Post features a story on Marash, who says that the network is misunderstood and that the reason he took the job is simply because he needed one.