Facing Financial Pressures, Al Jazeera Expands Sports Programming

The World

Al Jazeera has a growing online presence in English (Photo: screen shot of AJE)

Al-Jazeera has been a controversial news outlet. After the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the Qatar-based news channel was denounced by right-wing pundits in the US as "enemy media". Since then though, Al Jazeera has expanded in both Arabic and English; on TV and online. But now it's facing financial pressure, and trying to figure out where growth is most likely. On the news side, it's recently scaled back some operations, like having one anchor in Qatar as opposed to four around the world. But it's also expanding into the world of sport. The key to their success may in part lie with their funding from the Qatari monarchy. Philip Seib, a professor of journalism at the University of Southern California and author of 'The Al Jazeera Effect,' says "there was a bit of an insider joke that whenever Al Jazeera encountered a problem, they would just throw money at it." But he says the Royal Family is getting tired of that. The push for sport makes sense, since its their most profitable area. "And of course," says Seib, "Qatar will host the soccer world cup in 2022."