It is a testament to how influence Turkey is now in the Arab world that al Jazeera has decided to invest in a Turkish-language news channel to be called al Jazeera Turk.
As is known, al Jazeera is the Qatar-based and Qatari royal family-supported 24/7 Arabic cable news channel that broke barriers and taboos in the Arab media landscape with its launch in 1996.
It quickly rose to be preeminent in news in the region and one of the most popular channels. Curiously enough it is not profitable. Not because of want of viewers, of course, or lack of interest by advertisers; but because of blackmail by the House of Saud. al Jazeera and Qatari-supported media in general offers the sole pan-Arab alternative to Saudi dominance in Arab media. The Saudis have used their oil money to buy up the Arab press and silence criticism of the widely detested corrupt royals and the fanatical ideology of Wahhabi.
But al Jazeera is, albeit was once much more, a platform for Saudi dissidents and the Saudis blackmailed advertisers by threatening to disallow them access to the Saudi market (the most lucrative in the Arab world) if they supported al Jazeera. Bereft of ad dollars, the Qatari government still finances the network which should otherwise by monetarily self-sufficient. But no bother. al Jazeera’s Arabic network costs in the tens of millions and literally just one day of natural gas sells pays for a year of al Jazeera with millions left over. Fortunately Qatar has the wealth.
And the wealth to support an English language station which already has found an audience overseas and is finally making headway in the United States after widespread praise of its coverage of the Egyptian revolution, increased interest in the network by Americans including millions watching its live feed online, and the U.S. government’s reversed policy of courting the network.
And now al Jazeera is adding Turkey to its roster. A testament to the rising power of this media brand, which already ranks as one of the most popular brands in the world. And may soon dominate as the most prominent media news brand. Move over Time Warner and Murdoch!