In a victory for its US expansion efforts, Al Jazeera has signed a distribution deal with cable giant Time Warner, gaining access to millions of additional American households.
Time Warner will begin broadcasting Al Jazeera America (AJAM) in New York, Dallas and Los Angeles within six months, according to a statement issued by the two companies Thursday. Melinda Witmer, an executive vice-president at Time Warner Cable, said:
“We said in January that we would consider Al Jazeera America. Now that the channel is live, we think that it would be of value to our customers and are pleased to make it available.”
It was unclear whether AJAM paid Time Warner a carriage fee. Citing interim AJAM chief executive Ehab Al Shihabi, The New York Times explained the significance of the agreement:
“Once the deal was fully in effect, the channel would be available in about 54 million of the 100 million American homes that subscribe to satellite and cable television, up from about 44 million homes now.”
Whether those households will tune in is another matter. The station only attracted 54,000 viewers after it debuted in August.
The Time Warner deal comes as AJAM continues its legal fight with another major US carrier, AT&T. AJAM has accused AT&T of violating its contract with Current TV, which Al Jazeera Media Network purchased in January for a reported $500 million.