Ready to embark on an ambitious expansion plan, Doha-based Al Jazeera channel is planning to change its legal status as a public entity and convert itself into a ‘private organisation devoted to public interest’.Quoting unnamed sources,
Al Sharq reported yesterday that the change of status would provide the TV station more flexibility in its administrative as well as editorial functioning.
Once its status is changed, the network has plans to launch a host of regional channels such as Al Jazeera Balkans, Al Jazeera Turkey and Al Jazeera Swahili, among others.
Besides, the channel would be able to get actively into media activities like social networking sites, mobile and Internet-based news services, the daily said.
The channel already has been given the go-ahead to alter its legal status vide an amendment formalised by a law (No. 10 of 2011) that was ratified by the Emir H H Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, last May, Al Sharq said.
The new official name of the channel will be ‘Al Jazeera Media Network’ and the changed status would ensure that the channel becomes a truly international media organisation.
Legal experts told this newspaper on grounds of anonymity that the change of status could mean that Al Jazeera shareholders and staff members may have to sign new contracts.
“Although it is difficult to get investors because it is a very expensive enterprise, going private would mean Al Jazeera would have private shareholders,” a legal expert said.
The channel has offices around the world as also correspondents in every nook and corner of the globe, said the expert.“Al Jazeera is truly a phenomenon in the world of media, and especially in Arabic media”, said the expert. But going private could also mean some job cuts.
However, that’s highly unlikely. The channel must be paying hugely, aside from salaries and perks to its editorial staff, for the health and life insurance of its correspondents since most of them work in ‘hot spots’ around the world. According to the expert, the meaning of the phrase ‘private organisation devoted to public interest’ is that the channel would not deal with issues that are harmful to national security or stability of the country.
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