Cable companies: Add Al Jazeera English *now*

What the Gulf War was to CNN, the people’s revolutions of the Middle East are to Al Jazeera English. But in the U.S., in a sad vestige of the era of Freedom Fries, hardly anyone can watch the channel on cable TV.

Cable companies: Add Al Jazeera English NOW!

It is downright un-American to still refuse to carry it. Vital, world-changing news is occurring in the Middle East and no one–not the xenophobic or celebrity-obsessed or cut-to-the-bone American media–can bring the perspective, insight, and on-the-scene reporting Al Jazeera English can.

Yes, we can watch AJE on the internet. But as much of an internet triumphalist as I am, internet streaming is not going to have the same impact–political and education impact–that putting AJE on the cable dial would have. I can watch AJE in the Zurich hotel room where I am now; I want to be able to watch it on my couch at home.

So call your cable company. Tweet your demand (#WeWantOurAJE). Write a song and make a video about it. We want our Al Jazeera English.

  • Before you get all pissed off at me (because what I say will probably piss you off; but I don’t intend it to; it’s a legitimate question); aren’t you the same guy who promotes new media relentlessly and new methods of distribution and new paradigms for journalism?

    Isn’t this AJE’s opportunity to shine using models other than the outdated “we need to get on Cable to survive” model?

    I know a ton of people who are watching events unfold on AJE streams all over the country, and the reason they are is because AJE made everything available to everyone. Isn’t that what “new media” is all about?

    Like I said, just asking. Not trying to criticize or anything.

    • I’m not talking about you and me but the millions who do not watch TV online.

      • If you’re not of a curious enough mind to watch TV (and by TV I’m using the term loosely, I’m talking about video content in general) outside of the box on your TV stand, do you really care about AJE anyway?

        Think about it. The most popular shows on cable are Jersey Shore, Hoarders, and so on. That doesn’t strike me as the AJE crowd.

        And that still doesn’t answer my question, btw. This is the epitome of a new model for journalism, isn’t it? Don’t go to the traditional outlets; go beyond them. By not carrying AJE, aren’t the cable providers outdating themselves anyway, and if that’s the case, who cares?

        I think their model is actually smart and they’re going to benefit from it. CNN, MSNBC, and Fox aren’t live on your small screen; they are.

      • How many American stations are carried on middle east cable companys? Most have to have satellite dish! I has been interesting to see the reporting through the eyes of Aljazeera. I have to watch it onlime, I must say the have a good stream without lag! Time Warner does not offer Al Jazeera.

  • @Vinny

    True, but Jeff makes a good point, in as much as while we who know about and want to see Al Jazeera now have the opportunity to do so online, TV still has a huge impact and influence, and Americans need to have more diverse perspectives.

    • Not denying that, but then that’s like admitting the new model can’t succeed without the old model, which means it isn’t a very good model.

      Look at it a different way: considering how reticent companies are to put their content on mobile screens, and how much consumers are turning to them to get their content, AJE can have a leg up with an “any screen any time” philosophy. NO ONE else is doing that.

      Sure MSNBC, CNN, and Fox will be on your couch. AJE will be EVERYWHERE else.

      Sounds like a good strategy to me.

      • Brandon A.

        But why not have AJE everywhere period? Instead of everywhere ELSE?

        To put AJE on TV is not to say that the new model is failing or relies on the old model. We merely want the choice to be available on cable TV, since we must admit that cable TV will be around for a while regardless, and why not have the option there?

  • Martinus

    Yes, great idea, you Americans should start a revolution for being able to follow revolutions.

    Cheers from Amsterdam (just watching the stream),

  • Many people still do not have or regularly use computers, including a vast older generation. That’s why we need programs such as Democracy Now on cable, and why we need Al Jazeera on cable. It’s not for those of us who have alternatives we are happy with.

  • DJ

    @AJEnglish has always been on Channel 275 on Comcast cable in Washington DC area. If you have basic Digital cable, you have access to it. Not sure about other areas tho.

    • Chris

      DJ, I think that’s a function of being in the DC area. Here in the west, Comcast def. doesn’t carry AJ. But we have all the home shopping channels, softcore porn and sports ad nauseum.

      • DNA

        @Chris & @DJ,

        @AJEnglish is available in DC, but not nationwide. Right now LinkTV is broadcasting it live on DirectTV Channel 275.


      • DNA

        That should read “DirectTV Channel 375, NOT 275”.

  • Some PBS stations carry segments of Al Jazeera’s English programming on their digital subchannels. I know it’s not the same thing as getting the actual channel non-stop 24/7, but I just thought I would pass that along for those who are unaware.

    Program info:

    Channel info:

  • Mari

    Hope it works and you guys get it :)

    I have one eye on Al Jazeer on TV and one eye on twitter. #jan25 and #egypt on twitter will add all the extra news you need. We get CNN International over here (Holland), but without Christiana Amanpour it really doesn’t add anything to the news.

    Another greeting from Holland

  • Jim

    The problem I have with Al Jazeera is not their English service, but their Arabic service. It’s anti-semitic (not the same thing as just opposing Israel) and cheerleaders for terrorist organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas. Wouldn’t a cable company’s (or subscriber’s) payment for Al Jazeera English also partially support Al Jazeera Arabic? They may be editorially separate but are they also financially separate?

    • paul


      I’m just wondering if you speak Arabic? Do you know for a fact that AJA, does in fact, broadcast anti-semitic material (as opposed to just material opposing the state of Israel)?

      I have studied Arabic for years, and still have trouble understanding everything on AJA, but I don’t get that sense. Sure, there are some strong opinions on there, but they are showing you what the other networks don’t. They don’t necessarily condone it, just like news agencies in the US don’t condone all their material.


      • Jim

        Paul, no I don’t speak Arabic. I’m watching secondary sources, which I trust, in translation (what other option is there?) I’ll grant you that the most inflammatory segments are being translated but I don’t think they are being taken out of context. The consensus seems to be that AJA is about as “fair and balanced” about Jews as Fox News is about Muslims. Maybe I should watch them both to get a “balanced” view ;-)
        But that was not central to my question. It was, if I do not want to support AJA, for whatever reason, am I doing so by paying for AJE?
        I suppose it is also legitimate to ask if I am supporting Fox News by paying for the Fox entertainment channel, but I don’t think I can do without the Simpsons. ;-)

  • I know US cable companies will have many reasons for not carrying Al Jazeera but what is the most common reason. Too one-sided for Palestinians and against Israel? I sincerely hope that being one-sided is not the issue since those same cable companies have no problem carrying Fox News.

    • I’m sure your omission of MSNBC as “one-sided” was purely accidental, so I’ll add that in just in the interest of skewering both sides.

      • MSNBC is not one-sided, just objectively truthful.

  • Marie-Christine

    I have been an AJA fan for quite sometimes,so I hope the connection will be restored ASAP. I wish you luck for the broadcasting of it in the US.

  • Hallelujah. I totally agree. I’ve been watching little else. Ironically, I had no idea it was there until recently because it’s buried in the digital dial.

    MhZ carrying in the Washington, DC, area (275 on Comcast).

  • Samira

    My mother made us pay $14 a month for this AJ via digital (wish it was on regular cable),very thankful she did. It’s not just about middle east news; it talks to the whole world. North America is very behind, everyone knows everything there is to know about NA; However NA have no idea about the rest of the world. AJ is not being shown because it is truly an objective news channel. You hear about Western backed problems and crisis’ but also eastern backed problems. The LISTENING POST and WITNESS are great programs that have ACTUAL journalistic research and not celebrity talk sessions! Growing up in the west and having the luxury to observe both news outlets, I saw one thing; The powerful will stay powerful through misinformation and throwing around words like Islamic and insurgence (that word is utterly useless) to incite fear in the lower classes. I am muslim and I believe Israel should have it’s own state but not at the cost of a life. I think muslims who use Zionism as a beating stick for their masses when they question why they do not have certain basic rights like food and clean water..etc. AJ puts the lens on the powers that be, and connects individuals to a network where people will not be indifferent.

  • Simon

    Please note AJE has a site set up for people to make this exact demand of their US cable operators easy:

  • Shawn Levasseur

    There’s an app for tha

  • Cog

    Sorry Jeff, if you do not know why Al Jazeera is not being broadcast in the U.S., then you really need to look back into the archives from 2003 and 2004.

    I am about as progressive a media supporter as they come, but Al Jazeera or Al Jazeera English should not even be considered until past reporting has been accounted for.

    I am not going to go into line item by line item what was reported, the methods in which they were reported, or the changes that have allegedly been made over the years. Instead of a driveby post on the subject it really deserves a thorough and intensive study if you are interested in the issue.

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  • LTM

    OK, yes there is a bias in America against Al Jazeera, however, economics must also play into the equation… I am not sure if a large enough number of US citizens would even be interested in watching Al Jazeera (note that most US cable subscribers don’t get ANY foreign news sources, in many cases not even the BBC). I’m sure that the people who are interested and demand to watch Al Jazeera are perfectly capable of finding (and have already found) it.

    But seriously, are there ANY foreign news sources on your cable packages (BBC, CCTV, Deutsche Welle, Sky News, Canal, etc?)?

    Obviously, A.J. is going to have the best coverage of things happening in the Middle East, just as American news networks have better coverage of major American events and as the BBC has better coverage of major European events.

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  • Scott

    Who needs Al Jazeera? If I wanted to watch Anti-American rhetoric, I can turn on MSNBC. ;)

  • Isn’t this one of those things that reveals the problem with cable television? I’ve been streaming Al Jazeera online all weekend, and if it was easy (i.e. if I had a Google TV box or something) I’d be streaming it on my television.

    At some point, something like this will happen that a majority of the American public wants to follow as closely as they should be following this.

  • I´m here watching in Addis Ababa the news from egypt, I have two options, one is the BBC, the other is Al Jazeera. All do I think, it is not my case, Al Jazeera have a lot to give, specially in arab countries, for the westerns to watch this channel is hard to do, only because where it comes from, if you put another name to Al Jazeera, like PNN, more western will watch it because its a good news channel.

    BBC for instance is boring, they repeat to much you can´t stand and watch it for more than one hour, the only program that really counts for me is: Hard talk.

    Sorry about my english, I hope I had express my self ok.

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  • Agreed that we need better perspective on the Middle East, but having seen some of AJE’s coverage of American efforts and allies abroad, I’m concerned about welcoming their coverage into our society. These are no friends of western society or western values. There’s value in seeing the other side’s side of the stories, I’m just concerned about the impact this skewed perspective will have on the less intellectual sides of society.

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  • Martha

    To answer Paul’s question about whether a payment to AJE also supports AJA, the answer is no. I used to work there and AJE and AJA have completely separate staffs, except for a handful of the top officials (just like at Fox.) In addition, the English language version has lost money every year it’s been in business — if anything, the Arabic side funds the English side.
    As for Paul’s other assetion, there IS bias at AJE. There were times when I was told to make sure my segment was critical of the US, and I know that happened to other reporters too. Recently, several high-ranking staffers at the DC bureau were fired because the bureau didn’t do enough reports about the tiny church in Florida that was planning to burn the Quran, thus giving the impression that the US was a nation of people out to destroy Islam.

    I was once told to hand over the name of a contact to a government that was hostile to the US, because officials of that government were angry with what the contact had done.
    As for being anti-Semitic, Al Jazeera Arabic once threw an on-air birthday party for an admitted terrorist. Even though they later apologized for it, many analysts and retired military and diplomatic sources in the US refused to continue to appear on the network.
    Unfortunately, there are few places where people in the US can easily obtain information about the rest of the world. The excuse is that US viewers don’t want it — the truth is that viewers don’t want boring news reports, and interesting ones cost too much money. At a newspaper, it costs about $500,000 to fund an investigative unit that will produce about 12 pages of material a year. Who will fill all those other pages? And in TV, the costs are even higher.
    Whatever you think of Al Jazeera, at least the Emir of Qatar and other investors have stepped up to pay for their people to get important information, while politicians in the US are calling for the elimination of funding for all broadcasting here. That shows us who really wants an informed public, doesn’t it?

    • Me

      Martha? Did you really work at AJE in DC? First, Aljazeera Arabic does not partially fund the English side. In fact neither Arabic nor English have made a profit….or are mandated to….like many broadcasters that are state funded (PBS, CBC, BBC, etc). Second, who told you to produce a bias piece? If you took that info to the big bosses then that person would most surely have been reprimanded or lost his/her job. Third, some DC people did lose their job but not because of the Florida church story but because they were in over their head or could not work with the team they had.
      Imagine if AJE did non-stop Florida church coverage like the US nets….you can bet everyone would have jumped on it as Aljazeera whipping up ‘anti-US’, ‘anti-God’, rhetoric. Thank God (pun intended) that at least one news channel saw that Florida idiot for what he was.

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  • This is nothing in need of heroic, their eyewitness correspondents in Cairo are actually putting their lives at risk to report the news; a lot of US cable suppliers ought to offer Al Jazeera English:

    • The revolution won’t be televised… by the opposition.

      The disruptive nature of the Internet is starting to unravel the authority of those states that have the worst human rights problems.

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  • Richard

    Al Jazeera hates America and especially the Jews…can’t be any worse than CNN

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  • Dave Gehring

    LinkTV carried Al Jazeera English on Dish and Direct. SO, they’re on satellite at least…Plus, LinkTV produces a news show called Mosaic that compiles news from the middle east on a daily basis for broadcast in the US. Very cool stuff!

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  • I live in Canada and AJE has been a blessing. I’m a big news hound and the story’s that are covered pale everything else. If I want to know what’s going on in the world I’ll watch AJE, if I want to know what up with Lindsay Lohn I’ll watch CNN, if I want talking heads trying to outdo each other it’s NBC or FOX and if I want fluff between commercials I’ll watch Canadian broadcasts.

    AJE is the way the news should be done. I want to be informed, not entertained.

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  • I feel pretty well informed about developments in the Middle East thanks to NPR. Not all US media is failing us. Let’s see public radio and TV don’t get the shaft from Congress and the White House.

    • westie

      Al-Jazeera has been called “Jihad TV” by Judea Pearl, father of slain journalist Daniel Pearl. We cannot forget the story of the kidnapping and brutal murder of Daniel Pearl by al-Qaeda. The terrorists even videotaped the crime. Judea Pearl devotes a lot of his time these days to furthering interfaith dialogue.

      He is still warning about Al-Jazeera’s role as a recruiter of terrorists and tells me that he remains opposed to acceptance of the channel, Arabic or English.

      “I have no doubt that, today, Al-Jazeera is the most powerful voice of the Muslim Brotherhood, upon whom they can rely for full collaboration,” he says in a statement provided to me.

      Pearl also raises the specter of Al-Jazeera increasing the number of home-grown Jihadist incidents inside the U.S., saying, “this danger is not to be taken lightly.”

      Al-Jazeera doesn’t even try to hide its role in the anti-Western Jihad anymore. In the “interview” with Anwar al-Awlaki, Al-Jazeera put this “question” to the terrorist leader:

      “The Western media says that you are ‘inspiring’ Muslims in the US and the West. Is this an exaggeration?”

      The response from Anwar al-Awlaki:

      “I have said in an earlier interview with Al-Jazeera’s Yusri Fouda that the United States is a tyrant, and tyrants across history have all had terrible ends. I believe the West does not want to realize this universal fact. Muslims in Europe and America are watching what is happening to Muslims in Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan, and they will take revenge for all Muslims across the globe.”

      What these radical Muslims are “watching” is Al-Jazeera. It is not “real news,” as Clinton says, but incitement to violence, with Americans as terrorist targets. It is a sad commentary on our inability as a nation to face up to this threat that the Obama Administration and many in the media seem to be embracing this terrorist “news” channel.

      Why is it that some in the U.S. media and government want to bring this channel into America when the inevitable result will be more lives lost to Islamic terrorism?

      from WND report 3/4/11

      • Vincent

        So let’s see, in the entirety of your arguments for why Al-Jazeera is bad you offered only the views of one person – the father of a dead reporter – who:
        1. Is expected to be very influenced by emotions due to his son’s death in the hands of terrorists, and is thus not a very good source of rational deductions.
        2. Offers no concrete proofs for his allegations.

        Just because his son was killed by the Al-Qaeda (and he has very little knowledge about them – his son is knowledgeable, not him) does not mean that what he says about Al-Jazeera is correct.

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  • Quite some time ago I looked into some material from Al Jazeera on YouTube and was impressed at the overall high quality in reporting of this station. Which came as a surprise to me, as before, I had noticed the American sentiment linking Al Jazeera to religious psychopaths, and actually had believed this to be true. But, to be honest, in quite a few stories Al Jazeera covered I found MUCH more PROFESSIONAL and impartial reporting than I often can see on the big U.S. networks (where, ironically, in turn I very frequently stumble across clear propaganda, more-or less open hatemongering, and such unworthy of actual professional newspeople´s actions! So, coming from there, I wish Al Jazeera the best of success also in the United States. But, even more importantly, I would wish for the leading U.S.-native networks to remember their ethical obligations as well as their duty of SERVING the people in this great democracy with actual informations and insights, instead of manipulating them!

  • If you like Al Jazeera, demand that your Satellite or Cable TV company ad it to the basic lineup as a dedicated channel 24/7.

    Please join the Demand Al Jazeera English Facebook page


  • Ben

    I’m an american in UAE for work and between cnn, al jazeera and bbc (the only available english networks on satelite), al jazeera english is by far the LEAST biased, and the british/mid-east correspondents are amazingly professional compared to the other networks. Not sure what the arabic station is like.

  • This is nothing in need of heroic, their eyewitness correspondents in Cairo are actually putting their lives at risk to report the news; a lot of US cable suppliers ought to offer Al Jazeera English:

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  • jaydee

    Then I guess all you open minded people would welcome The Blaze TV on cable too.