More cable news on the way as Al Jazeera America gears up for Tuesday launch

SHARE More cable news on the way as Al Jazeera America gears up for Tuesday launch

Cable news will have a new competitor as of 2 p.m. Tuesday when Al Jazeera America enters the fray — and some 45 million U.S. homes.

The Qatar-based news organization Al Jazeera Media Network is launching its U.S. affiliate on what had been Current TV, former vice president Al Gore’s struggling cable channel that Al Jazeera snapped up for $500 million earlier this year.

Al Jazeera America last week unveiled a schedule of live news and other programming that will populate the fledgling network, which promises to “provide unbiased in-depth coverage of domestic and international news important to its American viewers.”

Initial plans include 14 hours of live news daily, plus documentaries and investigative reports. News updates will air at the top of every hour, every day of the year.

Al Jazeera America’s line-up includes “America Tonight,” a primetime news and current affairs show hosted by Joie Chen (Monday-Saturday at 8 p.m.), “Real Money with Ali Velshi” at 6 p.m. Monday-Friday and “Consider This,” a current affairs talk show helmed by Antonio Mora (Monday-Friday at 9 p.m.).

At 6:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday Lisa Fletcher and Wajahat Ali host “The Stream,” a social media-heavy program designed to tap into what viewers are thinking and what topics they’d like to see covered. Veteran news anchor John Seigenthaler will oversee an hour-long nightly news broadcast at 7 p.m. Future plans call for a weekly sports show and several documentary series already in production.

The New York City-based network has spent the past several months staffing a dozen U.S. bureaus, including one in Chicago. It recently announced the hiring of Chicago correspondent Ash-Har Quraishi, who worked for WTTW-Channel 11’s “Chicago Tonight” and “PBS NewsHour.”

Al Jazeera Media Network, bankrolled largely by the emir of Qatar, has 70 international bureaus that will help provide on-the-ground coverage of breaking news around the world.

“We will take full advantage of our extraordinary reporting resources to give our viewers the most up-to-date information available no matter when they tune in,” said Kate O’Brian, a former ABC News executive who recently took over as Al Jazeera America’s president.

While Al Jazeera’s original Arabic news channel has been panned in the West for being unbalanced, the editorially independent, international version — Al Jazeera English — has been better received. But its reach has been minimal, being offered in less than 5 million homes, mostly in the New York-Washington, D.C. area. Buying Current TV allowed the new network, Al Jazeera America, to broaden its footprint nearly 10-fold.

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