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Al Jazeera Gets a US Voice

Hugh Pickens writes (1984118) writes | about a year and a half ago

The Media 0

Hugh Pickens writes writes "The NY Times reports that Al Jazeera plans to start an English-language channel available in more than 40 million US homes, with newscasts emanating from both New York and Doha, Qatar after announcing a deal to take over Current TV, the low-rated cable channel that was founded by Al Gore seven years ago. But the challenge will be persuading Americans to watch the award winning network with 71 bureaus around the world — an extremely tough proposition given the crowded television marketplace and the stereotypes about the channel that persist to this day. “There are still people who will not watch it, who will say that it’s a ‘terrorist network,’ ” says Philip Seib. "Al Jazeera has to override that by providing quality news.” With a handful of exceptions, American cable and satellite distributors have mostly refused to carry Al Jazeera English since its inception in 2006. While the television sets of White House officials and lawmakers were tuned to the channel during the Arab Spring in 2011, ordinary Americans who wanted to watch had to find a live stream on the Internet. “There’s a major hole right now that Al Jazeera can fill. And that is providing an alternative viewpoint to domestic news, which is very parochial,” says Cathy Rasenberger. "If you watch us, you're going to like us. You are going to find it interesting," adds Robert Wheelock. "We offer an alternative. It's a broader coverage of news. It's a broader spectrum into countries that aren't traditionally covered.""

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