Al Jazeera America took to the airwaves on Tuesday (August 20) in an effort to deliver hard-hitting journalism backed by a coast-to-coast news organisation.

Al Jazeera bought Al Gore's Current TV in January to compete with U.S. news networks like CNN, MSNBC and Fox News. Terms of that deal were not disclosed, but analysts estimated it was worth as much as $500 million (£319 million)

Al Jazeera faces an uphill battle to build a loyal U.S. audience, given it is under the patronage of the government of Qatar. The network has said its model would be based on the BBC.

Defining its mission clearly will be crucial for Al Jazeera to gain a foothold in the United States, a goal that has so far eluded the award-winning network funded by the emir of Qatar, according to advertisers, executives and industry experts.

The network will at first be available in 49 million U.S. households, about half the reach of CNN. When Current TV was acquired, some cable operators dropped the channel. Al Shihabi said he is confident that the network's reach will expand to 75 million households in a short time.

Presented by Adam Justice