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Posted at 10:19 AM ET, 02/ 4/2011

"Demand Al-Jazeera in the USA" campaign

By Elizabeth Flock
height
Screen shot of al-Jazeera live in Cairo

Update: 3:11 p.m. The United Nations just told reporters al-Jazeera would restore the internal UN TV system, Washington Post reporter Colum Lynch reports. Al Jazeera had previously provided the UN with a feed to broadcast its program on the internal UN TV system until about a year ago. The feed was then cut off when the U.N. press corps shut down their bureaus in the U.N.'s headquarter building to make way for a major renovation of the landmark building. Al Jazeera's engineers only restored the feed today.

Over the past 11 days, major U.S. cable news networks repeatedly began their breaking news reports with the words "al-Jazeera reports."

The international news network headquartered in Doha, Qatar, and broadcasting to 190 million households around the world, has been the only media outlet with uninterrupted live video of the demonstrations. Al-Jazeera continued broadcasting even after Egyptian authorities stormed their Cairo office and detained several al-Jazeera reporters.

Americans huddled around their computer screens to watch low-resolution video on the al-Jazeera site or saw the video replayed on American networks, because other than a few pockets across the U.S., including Ohio, Vermont, and Washington D.C., American cable carriers don't offer viewers the choice of al-Jazeera. Viewers in the DC area can also view Al Jazeera English content through MHz Networks multicast channels.

Now, al-Jazeera is trying to change that. On Feb. 10, al-Jazeera is encouraging a meet up in 224 communities for viewers to demand the network on U.S. television. "This past month has shown us something that America can no longer ignore: millions of Americans want to watch our channel and better understand our region," Wadah Khanfar, director general of the network, wrote on the site.

Al Jazeera set up a page where a viewer can enter in their zip code, be led to a contact page for their local cable and satellite providers, and even send out a pre-written letter to their provider asking for the network. The letter states that "misinformed views about our content and journalism" continue to keep al-Jazeera English off American air waves.

(Abderrahim Foukara, the Washington bureau chief of al Jazeera, will be taking questions online at 11 a.m. ET to discuss the protests in Egypt, the detention of journalists and what Americans don't get about the conflict.)

Immediate calls to Comcast and Dish network were not answered.

The view promoted by the Bush administration was that the al-Jazeera network is anti-American. Leading up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the U.S. Pentagon hired the Rendon group to target and possibly punish al-Jazeera reporters who did not stay on message. When al-Jazeera broadcast graphic footage from Iraq, U.S. officials called al-Jazeera anti-American and said it incited violence. Al-Jazeera was censored in the U.S. on several occasions after that.

The past 11 days may alter that view. Alex Pareene of Salon wrote that "al-Jazeera's Egypt coverage embarrasses U.S. cable news channels." Major news networks are still prefacing their coverage with the words "al-Jazeera".

A promoted Twitter hashtag #DemandAlJazeera picked up steam this morning:

Like our coverage from #Egypt? Think we should be shown on US TV? It's time to #DemandAlJazeera http://aje.me/demandAJless than a minute ago via web

#demandaljazeera: for coverage on egypt that so many followed online but couldn't watch on tv http://english.aljazeera.net/demandaljazeera/less than a minute ago via web

USA...#DEMANDAlJazeera condems "gangs of thugs" that stormed their #Cairo office, burned with equipment inside it http://aje.me/egyptblogless than a minute ago via web

Although some still hold the view that al-Jazeera is anti-American: 

#scariestwordsever#demandaljazeera as a promoted hashtagless than a minute ago via web

By Elizabeth Flock  | February 4, 2011; 10:19 AM ET
Categories:  The Daily Catch  
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Next: Malcolm Gladwell and the Twitter backlash

Comments

I am truly mystified that AJ has not yet been allowed to broadcast in the US. In Canada we've been receiving Al Jazeera for about a year now.

Americans are missing out on one of the best networks in the world, if not the best.

Personally, I think AJ is leagues better than the BBC and TV5 of France. They have excellent documentaries on issues from around the world, not just the Arab or Islamic world. Their news reports and interviews are the most informative. An amazing accomplishment!

Americans deserve better than to be held hostage by lobbyists and ill-informed politicians, who presume to know what's in the American public's best interest.

Ignorance is no longer an excuse today. So, demand that AJ be televised NOW!

Posted by: AFShaker | February 4, 2011 11:00 AM | Report abuse

AJE is already available FREE in the DC area. You do NOT need cable. It is being broadcast on Channel 30.5, a digital channel operated by MHz Networks. If you have a regular over-the-air antenna, you can receive Al Jazeera English.

MHz broadcasts ten channels, including NHK World (Japan), Metro Chinese Network (state-run), RT Russia Today (state-run; also in Spanish), France24, EuroNews, and others.

Posted by: EthanS | February 4, 2011 12:52 PM | Report abuse

AJE is already available FREE in the DC area. You do NOT need cable. It is being broadcast on Channel 30.5, a digital channel operated by MHz Networks. If you have a regular over-the-air antenna, you can receive Al Jazeera English.

MHz broadcasts ten channels, including NHK World (Japan), Metro Chinese Network (state-run), RT Russia Today (state-run; also in Spanish), France24, EuroNews, and others.

Posted by: EthanS | February 4, 2011 12:55 PM | Report abuse

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.

Posted by: monicapellar | February 4, 2011 6:22 PM | Report abuse

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