Behind the Hubbub Over Al-Jazeera's Acquisition of Current TV and Time Warner Cable's Evolving Position About Broadcasting It In U.S.
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We were impressed with all that we learned about Al Jazeera and its journalistic integrity, global reach, award-winning programming, and growing influence around the world. That influence has recently been demonstrated by Al Jazeera’s important and impactful coverage of the Arab Spring, which was widely credited as being the most thorough and informative coverage from any media company.
Still, Al Jazeera is sometimes seen by the misinformed as spreading anti-American programming — an issue raised prominently by the Bush administration.
In a previous New York Times article, Philip Seib, the author of The Al Jazeera Effect, said, “There are still people who will not watch it, who will say that it’s a ‘terrorist network.’ …Al Jazeera has to override that by providing quality news.”
It seems as though cable companies are fearful viewers may not like hard-hitting news that could portray America’s actions in a negative light. And some may not. But as Al Jazeera management stated, there is a strong demand for Al Jazeera in the United States, as Americans account for 40 percent of the viewership of Al Jazeera English.
Al Jazeera's director general, Ahmed bin Jassim Al Thani, said in a statement: “U.S. viewers have clearly demonstrated that they like the way Al Jazeera provides compelling, in-depth news to audiences across the world.”
Many media outlets, however, have been quick to depict Americans as having little interest in world affairs. The New York Times quoted Rasenberger as warning, “There is a limited amount of interest in international news in the United States.” But here's to hoping that Al Jazeera helps Americans get a little more tuned in to what’s actually happening in the world — and how their country plays a large, and sometimes destructive role in it.