Why Comcast Should Carry Al Jazeera

We deserve the most comprehensive information — even if that includes a little America bashing

Comcast carries  more than 500 channels, catering to every interest from sports to news to weather to cooking to nature to lifestyle to kids to soaps to NASCAR to sci fi to Congress to comedy to cartoons to jewelry to travel to food to video games to retirement to shopping to classic movies to independent movies to women-in-peril movies to …

What Comcast — or any other major cable or satellite company in the United States — does not carry is Al Jazeera English, the corporate sibling to Arab-language Al Jazeera, based in Qatar.

Who cares? We all should.

Regardless of your feelings about AJE’s obvious Middle East, Islamic slant, the network has had the most comprehensive, on-the-ground coverage of the continuing anti-government protests in Egypt, by far. It has been on the story live and non-stop.

Dave Marash, former Washington anchor of AJE and a 16-year Nightline veteran, labels Al Jazeera English as “must-see TV.” For most Americans, however, the only place to catch it is on the Web, where it is streamed live.

Capitalizing on its current high visibility, AJE is stepping up its lobbying efforts with all the major U.S. cable and satellite companies. It’s scheduled to meet with Comcast later this month, sources confirm.

Marash, among others, says it’s only a matter of time before AJE breaks onto somebody’s dance card.

“The logic of it is just too obvious. The product is too good, too significant, to not have a market in the U.S., given the complete abdication of American networks and cable channels from actually covering international news.”

Marash, 68, joined AJE prior to its November 2006 launch. Two years later, he left in anger, publicly accusing the network of anti-American bias in its coverage. “I was right to go and they were glad I left,” he says in retrospect. “That bridge is toast.”

Still, Marash remains bullish on AJE and its prospects here.

The current situation is “tragic,” he says. “It plays into the ignorance of American viewers, most of whom are clueless as to what the world thinks and why. It’s very harmful to America’s effectiveness and stature in the world.”

Comcast, tear down this wall.

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  • Kayzie

    Right on Gail!! Just because someone doesn’t find the US always charming doesn’t mean we shouldn’t listen to them. I watch AJE on the web and have found their coverage of the Egyptian events very comprehensive and informative. I also listen to the US reporting. We need to hear all sides. Thanks for taking a stand.

  • betsy

    I first saw Al Jazeera last summer while vacationing in Australia. I now watch it on the web. They are indeed different from what we are used to, however, I have come to feel that is a good thing. The rest of the world doesn’t have the same high opinion of us that we do. We do ourselves a great disservice by not listening to the good and the not so good.

  • Tariq Rashad

    Throughout my travels in Iraq, Kuwait, and even Latin America, I can honestly say that the world’s opinion of America can often be refreshing, or even, ominous. As an American, I need to hear ALL sides, in order to be a more informed citizen. Thanks to Al Jazeera, average Americans can at least start trying to achieve this.

  • Tonyc

    If anyone is having a hard time finding these live broadcasts, an option the TVDevo.com service. They offer it, along with a lot of other live news and on-demand tv content.