Al Jazeera to hit airwaves, but where are the advertisers?

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Al Jazeera may have a team of 1,000 journalists, a massive budget that expands coverage around the globe and a lofty goal of besting ratings king Fox News — but what it doesn’t have is a solid advertising base.

The New York Post reports that when the network hits the airwaves Tuesday, it will do so with about half the normal cable news channel advertising load. It’ll have about six minutes of commercials per hour, compared to the 12-plus minutes broadcast by rivals Fox, CNN and MSNBC. Of those six minutes of commercials, about half will be in-house.

Al Jazeera says the lack of advertising is a win for watchers, but industry insiders say it is proof positive of the station’s flagging public image.

“I wouldn’t give them a dime, especially since we are in New York,” one advertiser requesting anonymity told the Post. “They’re owned by an Arab country and they ran the [Osama] bin Laden tapes. I just wouldn’t trust them.”

And this, from another ad buyer, who also requested anonymity: “Not touching that one.”

Al Jazeera’s website faces similar issues. The site, which claims to still be in its beta phase, is devoid of ads, the Post reported.

The company said that advertisers are “especially interested” in the lack of commercials.

“Our commitment to fact-based, unbiased and in-depth reporting appeals to the same audience they are trying to reach,” a network spokesman said in a statement.

The news outlet is funded by the government of Qatar and hopes to gain big shares into the American market.

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