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Al Jazeera launching a preschool channel

Al Jazeera is planning to launch a preschool kids channel by the beginning of next year, executive general manager of Al Jazeera Children’s Channel Mahmoud Bouneb told TBIvision. "I think there is a market in the Arab world for a preschool channel," he said.

Al Jazeera expects to launch the preschool channel in all of the territories its children’s channel, JCC, is currently distributed. JCC is carried throughout the Middle East and Europe on the Arabsat, Nilesat, and Hotbird satellites.

The preschool channel will produce about 40% of its own content, and acquire the remainder from the international market, just as JCC does now, Bouneb said.

JCC is working to gain distribution in North America and Asia, but the channel is finding carriage deals difficult to secure because of the political nature of Al Jazeera’s English-language news network.

"We are facing more or less the same difficulty as the news network, especially in North America," Bouneb said. "But we are working very hard to make this channel as universal as possible, and we want to make the channel available to Arabic-speaking children in North America. We are working with normal cable distributors."

In Asia the children’s channel will likely launch first in Malaysia.  "We are in discussions with [pay TV platform operator] Astro. But it will take some time," Bouneb said.