in Media

Al Jazeera disappears from American viewers

I learned tonight that part of Al Jazeera’s deal with what precious few cable companies that will carry it’s new Al Jazeera America channel involves completely removing its Al Jazeera English channel from American airwaves. My friend Doc Searls laments this change in a recent blog post:

On that last topic, I have to wonder what the calculus of the “deal” to kill the live AJE stream was. That was not only an awful lot to pay for very little in return; but it isn’t even clear who it was paid to. Comcast? Cox? AT&T? None of them carry @AJAM at all. And the others hardly seem to give a damn about the channel anyway. I can imagine this dialog between Al Jazeera and the U.S. cable companies:

AJ: We killed our firstborn so it would not offend you. Will you carry our channel now?


CABLE SECOND-TIER PLAYERS: Um, okay, maybe on one of our high-priced tiers, in lo-def.

AJ: Okay.

I admired Al Jazeera for its scrappy reporting and for bringing us news from a Middle Eastern perspective that can’t be found anywhere else. Hell, AJ is still doing news, which is more than I can say for CNN. I loved being able to watch it from my Free To Air satellite, but sadly the channel has disappeared from there, too.

At a time when viewers are moving away from evil cable companies in favor of getting their TV content from NetFlix, the Internet, and free to air satellite TV, Al Jazeera bucks the trend, signing on to old media and signing off to easy access. The cable tiers they’re stuck with are television graveyards.

It seems paradoxical but I can only hope Al Jazeera America fails so that I can regain access to an Al Jazeera I can actually watch.

Bonus: Not all at Al Jazeera are happy with the changes. There might be other options soon, too. Hope it’s not too late to do the right thing, AJ.