Al Jazeera TV mulls privatisation

Satellite television station is onsidering becoming a privately held company

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By  David Robinson Published  January 31, 2005

The Al Jazeera satellite television station is considering becoming a privately held company and a feasibility study on the matter is being conducted by a consultancy firm, the station's spokesman said. The station, frequently criticised by the US for its coverage of the Iraq war, has maintained a large following in the Arab world since its inception in 1996. Its offices in several Arab countries have been closed by governments in the region. The station has been discussing privatisation for the past 15 months, a Press report quoted Al Jazeera spokesman Jihad Ballout as saying. "We've been subsidised by the Qatari government since 1996 and we believe that this is the next stage. The most important factor is that Al Jazeera maintain its independence," he said in the news agency report. Ballout would not speculate on when or how the station may be privatised. Several governments have blasted the station for airing controversial programmes that criticise Arab authorities, and the US has accused it of inciting and encouraging violence against its troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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