Controversial Arab broadcaster Al-Jazeera is planning an English-language channel as part of an ambitious expansion scheme.

The English venture will launch in May, and will be followed by new sports and children's stations as Al-Jazeera seeks to boost its ad revenues. In addition, the broadcaster is this week opening a media training and development centre to give public relations advice to companies operating in Arab countries.

The eight-year-old TV firm -- which shot to international fame after broadcasting tapes recorded by Osama bin Laden -- was bankrolled by the Emir of Qatar until 2001, but has had to fund itself ever since. It is yet to make a profit, despite pulling in nearly 35 million viewers daily.

One reason for its cash shortage is that Al-Jazeera's editorial stance has alienated advertisers. Although the broadcaster is demonised in parts of the West for its connections with bin Laden, it has also come under fire in Arab countries for airing interviews with Israel's prime minister Ariel Sharon and American secretary of state Colin Powell.

"Agencies are boycotting us," managing director Wadah Khanfar complained recently. "A lot of companies are not putting adverts in our organisation because most of them are owned or at least hosted in certain countries that are not happy with us, like Saudi Arabia."

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff