US Viewers Watching Al Jazeera in Record Numbers

Posted on February 2, 2011


In spite of the fact that so many Americans have not got a perspective on what al Jazeera news is and what it does and the quality of its broadcasting, the viewership of the live stream from al Jazeera has skyrocketed during the Egyptian crisis.  It is yet another watershed moment in the history of communications.

Cable companies have shied away from offering it because there appears to be prejudice against it but in our nation’s capitol, it is available on a cable network and is very popular.  In the words of al Jazeera management:

Egyptian president Mubarak closed our offices, confiscated our equipment and arrested our journalists. The Egyptian government has removed Al Jazeera from NileSat, the state-owned satellite carrier, delaying our ability to be easily found in Egypt and North Africa. We have reappeared through other carriers, while instructions on how to find us go viral across the internet.

Elsewhere, in the United States, Al Jazeera faces a different kind of blackout, based largely on misinformed views about our content and journalism. Some of the largest American cable and satellite providers have instituted corporate obstacles against Al Jazeera English.

We are on the air and on the major cable system in the nation’s capital, and some of America’s leading policymakers in Washington, DC, have told us that Al Jazeera English is their channel of choice for understanding global issues. But we are not available in the majority of the 50 states for much of the general public.

We believe all Americans, not just those in senior governmental positions, could benefit from having the option to watch Al Jazeera English – or at least having the option not to watch us – on their television screens. [alJazeera]

Al Jazeera  has been widely available on Canadian TV since 2006.  Their experience belies another worry US cable companies have – that they could lose viewers if they sign with al Jazeera.  Read about the Canadian experience in the Huffington Post.

This is, however, nothing new in the US.  Those of us living up near the Canadian border.  We can’t get Canadian TV stations.  That’s crazy.  I could have had help with my French with a Montreal station.  I could know Spanish and the Mexican people better with a station in English and Spanish that was more than soap operas.

What I am saying is that too often the bottom line is what drives business. Even my supermarket chain has removed things I love because they are not top sellers.  But the internet is solving all of our problems.  I purchase foods I miss over the internet and I watch videos and read papers from all over the world.  I keep myself global in perspective.  It is not easy to do.  As a former librarian, I have search strategies that may be better than average.  But what about those people who are having difficulty reaching other news outlets globally?

The US media is also competitive and so much is more or less “blacklisted.”

So there you have it.  We are  having a mini-information revolution in our own country that has been exacerbated by the crisis in Egypt.  Wait until the Royal wedding in Britain is telecast.  The international audiences are there.  Media outlets around the world need to become more “assertive” in trying to break into the US market.  For one, they can go directly to the people in the US in many more ways than they do now .

From several commentators this informaion:

Go to this website to demand Al Jazeera today! http://english.aljazeera.net/demandaljazeera/ #demandaljazeera

Posted in: MEDIA, UNITED STATES