US Government Mulls Advertising on al-Jazeera

16 October 2001

Qatar-based TV station al-Jazeera, used by Osama bin Laden last week to broadcast a pre-recorded statement, is being considered as an advertising outlet by the US government.

Former J Walter Thompson chairman Charlotte Beers, now undersecretary of state for public diplomacy with responsibility for US broadcasts to the rest of the world, revealed the State Department was considering advertising on al-Jazeera as part of the “battle for the mind”.

“I will choose any channel of distribution, any format that will get the job done,” she commented. “The [immediate] problem is getting the message articulated and understood. Then I will worry about the channels of distribution. I know how to do that. It may be imperfect. It’s not like I can call up a channel and run it. But if I have to buy time on al-Jazeera, I would certainly consider it.”

Such advertising would probably argue the US does not oppose Islam per se, and would highlight humanitarian aid delivered to Afghanistan. Beers is forming a council of Arab and Muslim leaders to help determine how America should address the region.

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