August 7, 2022

Media Decoder: Al Jazeera at Home on a Former PBS Outlet

KCET-TV in Los Angeles has been broadcasting Al Jazeera English since Feb. 1.

Even as Al Jazeera English continues its battle for broader cable distribution in the United States, it is reaping a growing audience in Los Angeles on a broadcast channel.

KCET-TV, the public broadcaster that quit carrying PBS programming on Jan. 1 to avoid paying dues, began broadcasting Al Jazeera English on its main channel on Feb. 1, as the political landscape in Northern Africa and the Middle East started to unwind.

Viewers responded, and the newscast has now found a home on KCET four times each weekday, from early morning to late nights, and once a day on weekends. In its main weekday slot at 4 p.m., ratings jumped 135 percent from February through May, the station said, and over all, the newscasts are drawing more than 285,000 viewers each week.

Within the three-hour block of international newscasts that KCET broadcasts from 4 to 7 p.m. weekdays, the two Al Jazeera segments far outpace broadcasts from Japan’s NHK and the Israel Broadcasting Authority, but trail the long-established BBC World News.

KCET had been carrying Al Jazeera English, with a three-hour delay, as part of a package on a digital subchannel, but as the revolution in Egypt unfolded decided to move it to the main channel, said Bret Marcus, KCET’s chief content officer. “We wanted to be able to air it live and to air their expanded coverage,” he said.

Mr. Marcus said he had been braced for some criticism from viewers about Al Jazeera English’s point of view, but “most people think it’s been very even-handed.” He praised the scope of coverage, noting that last week the program carried reports from Argentina, China and Sri Lanka. “I would guess those are all stories you would not see on a domestic newscast,” he said.

Molly Conroy, a spokeswoman for Al Jazeera English, said the ratings “have shown that there is increased demand” for the newscasts.

Article source:

Speak Your Mind