Originally created 06/02/06

Debut of Al-Jazeera International not expected until after summer



NEW YORK - The debut of the Al-Jazeera International news network, expected by the end of May, has been delayed and probably won't take place until September at the earliest.

Doubts about the network's content have nothing to do with the delay, Lindsey Oliver, AJI's commercial director, said Tuesday.

The technical aspects of connecting a network that will operate out of four broadcast centers - in Doha, Qatar; London, Washington, and Kuala Lumpur - have proven to be more difficult and time-consuming than expected, Oliver said.

The planned offshoot of the influential Qatar-based Arabic network is to broadcast in English and is being viewed as a competitor to CNN and the BBC. It has signed such personalities as David Frost and Dave Marash.

Even if the technical problems are fixed quickly, it makes little sense to start a news channel in the summer when people are on vacation and it's so hot in Qatar, Oliver said.

"I'm not going to say an actual month (for launch) because we've done that before," she said. "We're certainly on track for launching very soon and because we have this buffer of the summer, I think you could expect to see us within a relatively short period of time. Certainly within 2006."

Al-Jazeera International has yet to announce any deals with an American cable or satellite operator to carry the network.