At 3 PM ET, Al Jazeera America launched in some 45 million homes across the country, formally replacing Current TV. AJAM lost carriage in a few million more households today as AT&T Uverse decided to stop carrying the channel after failing to come to terms on a new agreement.
The first few minutes were hosted by anchors Richelle Carey and Antonio Mora, who introduced the channel. Clips of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Senator John McCain praising Al Jazeera were played, followed by clips of people on the street criticizing the existing media landscape.
“It is plain and simple opinion and brainwashing,” one man said of the current TV news channels.
Of course, the focus of the opening segment was on the 70 bureaus and the thousands of journalists that have worked for the company since it was founded in 1996. Brian Stelter recorded the first few minutes of AJAM.
The first sponsors to appear on AJAM were Gillette, Vonage and ProActiv. if Gillette is in fact a launch sponsor, it would be good news for AJAM, as the company–owned by Procter & Gamble–tends to be conservative in its ad buys.
At 4 PM, former CNN anchor Tony Harris opened the first hour of news for AJAM. Harris left CNN in 2010 and started anchoring for Al Jazeera English in 2011. The first correspondent to appear? AJAM White House correspondent and former NBC News reporter Mike Viqueira .