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Cable Show 2013: Al Jazeera America ‘Coming Out’ in DC

Washington — Al Jazeera America at the Cable Show will be trying to drum up some attention for — and operator interest in — its upcoming network launch later this summer, converting the assets purchased from Current TV.

“It’s a coming out party,” AJAM marketing vice president Jerry Connelly said. “We’re launching sometime late summer, so this is a great time to get in front of the distribution community and really put our best foot forward. There’s a lot of curiosity out there in terms of what this channel is going to be about. We really haven’t shown our wares all that much yet. This will be an opportunity to get a taste, at least, of what this channel will represent when it’s launched later this year.”

Al Jazeera Media paid a reported (and confirmed) $500 million for Current TV and hopes to launch with about 50 million homes via distribution on such providers as Comcast, DirecTV, Dish Network, Verizon FiOS TV and AT&T U-verse. Time Warner Cable dropped Current TV when the network was sold — Al Jazeera says it is hopeful that second-biggest U.S. cable company will make a deal to carry the new network.

The network will have about a 30-feet-by-30-feet exhibition space (Booth 2729) at the convention center, featuring interactive kiosks and a video wall with program reels giving a flavor for what will be on the channel. There also are plans to have network talent, notably former CNN anchor Ali Velshi, on hand, possibly interviewing newsmakers.

Here is the AJAM talent lineup planned for the booth: Ali Velshi, Monday, 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.; Stacey Tisdale, Monday, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.; Kim Bondy, Adam May and Monday, 2-4 p.m.; Lisa Fletcher, Monday, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., and Tuesday, 2-4 p.m.; Tony Harris, Monday, 2-4 p.m., and Tuesday, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.; Michael Viqueira, Natasha Ghoneim, Neal Scarbrough, Jessica Taff, Ed Pound, Tuesday, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.

“This is a domestic news network, based here in the States, with bureaus across the country in a number of key markets,” Connelly said. “Our home studios will be based here in New York, and a bunch of studios in D.C. and L.A.” The news mix will include international news, as well, from parent company Al Jazeera Media’s 80 bureaus around the world.

AJAM also will wrap at least two of the buses driving attendees back and forth between hotels and the convention center, and there will be some signage at the center, Connelly said.

Kent has been a journalist, writer and editor at Multichannel News since 1994 and with Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He is a good point of contact for anything editorial at the publications and for Nexttv.com. Before joining Multichannel News he had been a newspaper reporter with publications including The Washington Times, The Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) Journal and North County News. He got his bachelor's degree at Pace University in Westchester County, N.Y.