Al-Jazeera English network cleared for Canada

Thu Nov 26, 2009 7:47pm EST
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By Etan Vlessing

TORONTO (Hollywood Reporter) - Canada's TV watchdog has cleared the way for the English-language Al-Jazeera network to be viewed here as a digital cable channel.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) gave its thumbs-up to the Qatar-based international news service Al-Jazeera English, which is headed by former Canadian Broadcasting Corporation senior executive Tony Burman as managing director.

The CRTC slapped no conditions on the approval for Al-Jazeera English, in contrast to 2003 when it green-lit the Arabic-language al-Jazeera service for Canadian carriage, but ordered cablers and other content carriers to edit out violence or potential hate messages.

No Canadian content carrier has yet taken up the expense, or bother, of editing the Arabic Al-Jazeera service as a condition of carriage.

"Despite concerns expressed by certain parties, there is nothing on the record of the current proceeding that leads the commission to conclude that AJE would violate Canadian regulations, such as those regarding abusive comment," the CRTC said in its Thursday ruling on Al-Jazeera English.

The CRTC received around 2,600 public comments in support of the carriage application by Al-Jazeera English, with only 40 parties expressing opposition, the regulator said.