Frost faces future at Al Jazeera

Brit b'caster set to preem next spring

Al-Jazeera confirmed Thursday that it has hired David Frost to bring the British broadcast legend to its English-language offshoot, set to debut next spring.

A New York-based spokeswoman for the company said no other on-air appointments were ready to be announced at this time, nor were any carriage deals for the service, though talks are ongoing.

“He’s a one-man international broadcasting phenomenon,” said the channel’s Qatar-based managing director Nigel Parsons.

Frost said, “This is a great adventure — the first and perhaps the only brand-new international TV news network for the 21st century. This time, while our target is still Britain and America, the excitement is that it is also the 6 billion other inhabitants of the globe.”

Frost will continue with his BBC work, the upcoming Frost interview specials as well as a series called “Through the Keyhole.” He ended his long-running Sunday morning show on the Beeb, “Breakfast With Frost,” earlier this year.

Al-Jazeera Intl., headquartered in Qatar, will draw on facilities and talent in broadcasting centers in Doha, Kuala Lumpur, London and Washington D.C. and dozens of news bureaus worldwide.

Frost will broadcast from Al-Jazeera Intl.’s London broadcast center. Details of his onscreen work with the channel will be revealed closer to launch.

Al-Jazeera recruited CNN’s Riz Khan in May and is actively courting other newsies and familiar faces in TV journalism as it seeks to build credibility for its English-language service. The D.C. bureau chief is Will Stebbins, hired last year from Associated Press Television News.Net is also developing a talkshow based on the 2004 doc “Control Room,” which chronicled its coverage of the Iraq War. The doc will be licensed to program buyers at the upcoming Mipcom TV trade show in Cannes.

Talkshow will be hosted by the doc’s two stars, Al-Jazeera senior producer Samir Khader and former Marine Lt. Josh Rushing, who worked with Al-Jazeera reporters while serving as a press officer at Central Command.

Al-Jazeera is working with an undisclosed but purportedly substantial budget for its English-language startup. Net is bankrolled by Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, ruler of oil-rich Qatar.

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