Al Jazeera claims to be the only politically independent television station in the Middle East. The station remains partly dependent on the emir of Qatar for funding. Now rivaling the BBC in worldwide audiences Al Jazeera was started with a $150 million grant from the emir of Qatar; it aimed to become self-sufficient through advertising by 2001, but when this failed to occur the emir agreed to continue subsidizing it on a year-by-year basis ($30 million in 2004, according to Arnaud de Borchgrave). Other major sources of income include advertising, cable subscription fees, broadcasting deals with other companies, and sale of footage (according to Pravda, "Al-Jazeera received $20,000 per minute for Bin Laden's speech".) In 2000, advertising accounted for 40% of the station's revenue. The channel began broadcasting in late 1996. In April of that year, the BBC World Service's Arabic language TV station, faced with censorship demands by the Saudi Arabian government, had shut down after two years of operation. Many of the former BBC staff members joined Al Jazeera. By 2005, Al Jazeera plans to expand its operations by setting up an English Channel satellite service called Al Jazeera International. Its Asian bureau will be in Kuala Lumpur. Its European bureau will be in London and its American Bureau will be in Washington D.C.. Viewership
It is widely believed internationally that inhabitants of the Arab world are given limited information by their governments and media, and that what is conveyed is biased. Many people see Al Jazeera as a more trustworthy source of information than government and foreign channels. As a result, it is probably the most watched news channel in the Middle East. Increasingly, Al Jazeera's exclusive interviews and other footage are being rebroadcast in American, British, and other western media outlets such as CNN and the BBC. In January 2003, the BBC announced that it had signed an agreement with Al Jazeera for sharing facilities and information, including news footage. Al Jazeera is now considered a fairly mainstream media network, though more controversial than most. Staff
The CEO of Al Jazeera is Sheikh Hamad bin Thamer al-Thani, a distant cousin of Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani. The current managing editor is Waddah Khanfar. His number two is Ahmed Sheikh. His number three is Muhammed Ben Salem. The managing editor for the yet-to-be-launched Aljazeera International is Shane Johnson. The latest in a string of managing editors of the English-language site is Omar Bec - who is currently caretaking the site after the departures of Joanne Tucker, Ahmed Sheikh and Alison Balharry. The head of the Arabic website is Muhammad Dawud.
Criticism and harassment
Bahrain Information Minister Nabil al-Hamr banned the station from reporting from inside the country on May 10, 2002 because the station was biased towards Israel and against Bahrain.  From Spain
Reporter Taysir Allouni was arrested in Spain on September 5, 2003, on a charge of having provided support for members of Al-Qaida. Judge Baltasar Garzón, who had issued the arrest warrant, ordered Allouni held indefinitely without bail. He was nevertheless released several weeks later, but was prohibited from leaving the country. From the United States
The station first gained significant attention in the west following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, when it broadcast videos in which Osama bin Laden and Sulaiman Abu Ghaith defended and justified the attacks. This led to criticism by the United States government that Al Jazeera was engaging in propaganda on behalf of terrorists. Al Jazeera countered that it was merely making information available, and indeed several western television channels later followed suit in broadcasting portions of the tapes. Nevertheless, CNN cut its ties with Al Jazeera for several months over this controversy. On March 25, 2003, two of its reporters covering the New...