Al Jazeera English comes to YouTube

Al Jazeera English has become available on YouTube in what could be the most extensive news offering on the video sharing site.

The Doha-based broadcaster has initially made clips from its news and programmes available to the YouTube community by launching a branded channel (www.youtube.com/aljazeeraenglish) on the popular site.

The BBC's YouTube channel, launched in March, plans to include two-minute news clips to users outside the UK only — because of the use of advertising on YouTube.

Its current content is typically threeminute Doctor Who previews and snippets of shows.

Al Jazeera English's content on its YouTube channel has so far included segments from shows such as Frost over the World, Everywoman, Inside Iraq, Inside Story, Listening Post, Riz Khan, One-on-One, The Fabulous Picture Show, Witness and 48.

But the broadcaster is also planning to release some exclusive web-only programming, starting with Political Bytes, a global conversation hosted by UN correspondent Mark Seddon, which will invite the YouTube audience to contribute.

It has also promised to add at least 10-15 new clips each week to the site.

Russell Merryman, editor-in-chief, web and new media at Al Jazeera English, said the broadcaster would be able to keep to its promise with a mix of fresh content such as Political Bytes and unused excerpts from interviews and discussions for TV broadcast.

"There's a lot of what we do day in, day out that produces content that doesnot make it onto the channel. We have thousands of hours of content, but only 24 hours to fill [on the TV channel]."

The YouTube channel could provide Al Jazeera with a way into the American market.

Despite almost a year-long campaign, hardly any cable networks or TV outlets have signed up to carry the service.

Al Jazeera is hoping the channel can help change perceptions of the broadcaster in the US.

Merryman said: "What we have been trying to do is develop online services to try and make up for the lack of coverage in some parts of the world."

Merryman, who was previously executive producer of broadband for BBC New Media, said that the YouTube deal was the next logical step after onlinestreaming and subscription services on the Al Jazeera website.

He said it would consider doing similar news clips to the BBC, but wanted to create a kind of video on demand for a worldwide audience.

The same staff that monitors Al Jazeera's online forums will moderate the site.

No extra staff have been brought in to work on production or editorial, but Merryman said the broadcaster hoped that if successful, the project would mean expansion in this direction.

Nigel Parsons, managing director of Al Jazeera English, said the broadcaster hoped the channel would reach out to its current audience and ensure "easy access to new viewers around the world".

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