Do You Want Al Jazeera America on Your Cable Provider?

A demystification of Al Jazeera America after the news network’s launch into U.S. homes.

Credit: Morris Township- Morris Plains Patch
Credit: Morris Township- Morris Plains Patch

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For some Americans, Al Jazeera might not be a likely alternative to the tendentious opinion shows that have taken over our cable news outlets. Some news consumers had high hopes when the Qatari news broadcaster bought Current TV last January to start an American channel, but more Americans’ first memory of Al Jazeera is when it aired multiple videos of Osama bin Laden following the 9/11 attacks.

But the fact is that Al Jazeera garnered worldwide recognition for its thorough coverage of the Arab Spring, and its reputation has continued to develop. Hillary Clinton commented that when watching Al Jazeera “you feel like you’re getting real news around the clock instead of a million commercials and, you know, arguments between talking heads.” According to Joel Hyatt, who co-founded Current TV with Al Gore, the sale felt right because they believed that Al Jazeera shared certain ideals with Current, including giving “voice to those whose voices are not typically heard.” (The $500 million Al Jazeera paid for Current probably didn’t hurt, either.)

Whatever the argument, Al Jazeera America launched into about 44 million households across the country, and early ratings suggest that Americans may still be unwelcoming.

Here is a breakdown of information about Al Jazeera America to help anyone who may be on the fence:

What Does the Name Mean? The words “Al Jazeera” are Arabic and translate to “the island,” in English. They refer to the geography of the Arabian Peninsula.

Who’s Paying for This? Al Jazeera first launched in 1996, branched into Al Jazeera English in 2006, and is now broadcast in 130 countries, claiming to reach 260 million households. The Al Jazeera Media Network’s headquarters are in Doha, Qatar. Heavily funded by the rich Qatari government, Al Jazeera “is one of the most significant investments in television journalism in modern times.”

Why Are They Investing in American Audiences? For the same reason that The Guardian, the BBC, and that famous Australian newspaperman do: Americans are a uniquely influential and wealthy audience. (For similar reasons, Americans news and media organizations are now fighting for a way to get into China.)

Why Would I Want to Watch It? At least at the beginning of its run, Al Jazeera America is putting a strong focus on hard news reporting, both domestically and internationally. If you like “60 Minutes,” that may appeal to you. If the prime-time talk format on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC appeals to you, maybe it isn’t.

Will you watch Al Jazeera America if it becomes available through your cable subscriber? Tell us in the comments or in a blog post.

bobrzik November 25, 2013 at 11:43 AM
Pat Martin November 25, 2013 at 01:27 PM
I will cancel fios if they make me take this channel on my basic lineup
Judith November 25, 2013 at 01:41 PM
Absolutely not and if it adds to my cable fee I'll cancel my cable.
Thomas Saunders November 25, 2013 at 02:13 PM
bet you people don't watch BET either...lol
Bob Moody November 25, 2013 at 02:21 PM
it is good to know what the enemy is up to
ffquaye November 25, 2013 at 02:37 PM
Sure will.I seek a more wholesome refection of news and I think they are adding to it. They are just as good as any news channel anywhere. As all other media networks seek new markets,they also do the same. As other news networks seek more influence and more access to international arenas,AlJazeera does the same. If you were a media organization with a story to tell wont you do the same?There are some who would like them ,others would not so much as cast a glance .. It also happens to NBC,FOX ,ABC etc. Maybe China will also resist our networks and the playing field would not be even,but hey it is alright . People will find what media they want. Al Jazeera welcome to America and competition!
Herb Roberts November 25, 2013 at 03:25 PM
It can't be any worse then some of the cable news stations we get now.
Sandy Davis November 25, 2013 at 03:30 PM
I have been a fan of them for a while now and miss the live streaming they used to do before becoming a US news station. I love that they take on topics that most others ignore or gloss over. I wish people would watch before judging it based on its name or hearsay.
Herb Roberts November 25, 2013 at 03:35 PM
Most of the " Main Stream " news stations are so one sided it is a joke. And sadly the joke is on most of us viewers.
Randy Kies November 25, 2013 at 03:55 PM
Al Jazeera, Doesn't he play the Saxophone????
Donald Eugene Putnam Jr. November 25, 2013 at 04:05 PM
Have to see and hear both sides of any issue to make an intelligent choice.
Owen Shelton November 25, 2013 at 06:05 PM
Ian=m aware of it..there was another company on that channel and one day I opened it and there was al bejesus....I resent it very much..just another example of those people moving in on us and we are allowing it.......someday it will be too late.....I also agree you have to listen to both sides to be informed....
Checkmoot November 25, 2013 at 06:28 PM
The Righties watch Fox, the Lefties, MSNBC, if you like talking heads there's CNN. Al Jazeera reports news, sorta like CNN used to be, but from a totally neutral basis. Yup, I'd watch them.
Robert Johnson November 25, 2013 at 06:41 PM
Al Jazeera is no different than Fox News. The are both have owners who are Arabs. Fox's part owner is Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal. Gee Tea Baggers, you didn't know that? All new is biased so you rarely if ever get the straight story. In the 2012 Presidential election, Fox New was the All Romney all the time news channel.
Donna Zimmerman November 25, 2013 at 07:15 PM
Absolutely not.
Scott Cowden November 25, 2013 at 07:48 PM
Hmmmmmmmm. Watch the same netowrk that was Bin-Laden's mouthpiece until we whacked him? Watch the same network that are the go-to guys for terrorists after they've killed & maimed? Watch the same network that splashed video of US citizens being beheaded and US troops being hung from bridges then being mutilated all over TV? Ummm, no. Think I'll pass.
Carolyn Brack-Jackson November 25, 2013 at 09:29 PM
Checkmoot, If you think that Al jazeera is totally neutral, then you've been sorely mislead! Total neutrality in ANYTHING is nonexistant! Everyone comes from a biased point of view.
moretoons November 26, 2013 at 12:29 AM
I'm guessing most of those who say they wouldn't watch it haven't bothered, so they speak from an ignorant position. They actually report the news. Novel concept, but no one else does it. My local stations have nothing but the latest murders and celebrity crap, and the national networks are the biased mouthpieces of a bunch of argumentative, annoying talking heads.
Charles Gustafson November 26, 2013 at 01:01 AM
I have to watch it on the Internet. There are supposedly a top 5 in Cable providers. My Cable Company is one of them. Of course they are even more conservative than Fox News, so they of course, are the only one of the five that does NOT carry Al Jazeera and won't negotiate. The only saving grace is that they don't carry The Blaze either. Thank God.
Sam L. Day November 26, 2013 at 10:50 AM
With the PEASEFUL arabs, sunni and shitie alreqady in our country, I am waiting for the gunfire.


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