Al Jazeera appoints new chief to oversee US drive

Al Jazeera English has appointed a new managing director charged with overseeing expansion into North America.

Former editor-in-chief of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Tony Burman will replace Nigel Parsons in the MD role at Al Jazeera English. Parsons, who has been in the role since the channel’s launch in 2006, will become managing director of business acquisition and development.

Commenting on his appointment, Burman said there would be increased investment in investigative journalism and expansion of the network of more than news bureaux. He added: ‘In the months ahead, I will also put an emphasis on the expansion of Al Jazeera’s vast audience reach into important new areas of the world, most notably North America.”

Al Jazeera is currently only available in the US through link ups that include a deal with video site YouTube and has since launch been subject to attacks from American critics that it was a ‘terrorist channel”.

On its first anniversary last November, Al Jazeera English’s London bureau chief Sue Philips told Press Gazette the channel hoped to launch on an American network within the next six months.

Philips has since been promoted to director of foreign bureaux and development, based in Doha.

The channel has been subject to a number of high profile staff departures since its launch. Most recently, head of news Steve Clark and Washington anchor David Marash left the channel.

Clark’s wife, Jo Burgin, the former head of planning at Al Jazeera English has also launched a £1m compensation claim against the channel, alleging sex, race and religious discrimination.

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