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Wed, Apr 02, 2003 - Page 12 News List

Al-Jazeera TV gets fees from footage used by Fox, NBC

BLOOMBERG , DOHA, QATAR

Al-Jazeera Satellite Channel, criticized by US officials for its war coverage, is a favorite with rivals worldwide. The Arab-language network pays most of its expenses with fees it collects from other channels that use its news footage.

Executives at News Corp's Fox News Channel, Viacom Inc's CBS and General Electric Co's NBC said their companies pay al-Jazeera for the right to use whatever footage they choose, from exclusive video of Baghdad to captured US soldiers. The US-based broadcasters declined to say how much they pay.

The fees are enough to keep al-Jazeera, started in 1996 by Qatar's emir with a US$150 million investment, from having to ask its benefactor for more money, according to Al-Jazeera's marketing chief, Jihad Ali Ballout.

The agreements with US networks are "a beautiful thing," Ballout said in an interview. "It not only generates money, but it puts us in bed with reputable partners."

US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld last week denounced Doha, Qatar-based al-Jazeera's broadcast of footage showing captured US soldiers in Iraq.

He said it was a violation of the Geneva convention to show war prisoners "in a humiliating fashion."

The New York Stock Exchange revoked al-Jazeera's credentials last week, citing space considerations, and the NASDAQ Stock Market said it won't let Al-Jazeera switch to NASDAQ's studios in light of the network's "recent conduct during the war."

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