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I enjoy the TV news program Al Jazeera English via broadcast from the local channel in Chicago, WYCC.  That may be about to change has changed with today's rollout of Al Jazeera America.  As you may have noticed from a certain presence on the web, Al Jazeera is about to launch a new channel called Al Jazeera America.  According to the senior executive producer, Kim Bondy (formerly of CNN), it will be a bit like CBS Sunday Morning, NBC's Rock Center and Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.

What could possibly go wrong?

Glenn Greenwald expressed this concern on a recent "On The Media" program (also linked above):

They seem to have this philosophy that in order to host a show you have to be a current or former CNN employee. which suggests that what they're really trying to do is replicate the CNN model of being this kind of uncontroversial, offend nobody, approach to the news.
Al Jazeera America people responded to that to assure us that this will not happen.  But I think we know what happens when products become americanized.  And there are some obvious pressures on Al Jazeera to "prove" to some Americans that they aren't "a bunch of terrorists" in order to gain more viewers.  Bigotry and ignorance are all the rage in the US these days and that could shut out a major share of the potential audience.

In a recent Guardian column Greenwald expands on some of the issues for Al Jazeera America:

Draining al Jazeera of its vibrancy and edginess and turning it into an imitation of CNN would be a way of trying to appease those negative views of the Jazeera brand. The target of such accommodation would be not only the parts of the US public which regard the network with suspicion, but at least as critically, cable carriers and corporate advertisers, whose willingness to be associated with the network is vital to its financial success, as well as US political officials, whom the network wants to appear regularly.

Because AJAM has not launched yet, debates over which course the new network has chosen have been mostly speculative. But one prominent Al Jazeera journalist, Marwan Bishara, the network's senior political analyst and host of "Empire", is insistent that the network has chosen the latter course of appeasement, fear and self-neutering.

Earlier this week, Bishara sent a scathing 1,800-word email to multiple Al Jazeera executives, directed particularly at those overseeing the new network. The missive, a copy of which was provided to the Guardian and whose receipt was confirmed by AJAM executives (published here), excoriates network officials for running away from the Jazeera brand due both to "the rush to act out of a personal ambition" and "to appease those who won't, or don't necessarily want to be, appeased". Such a re-branding effort, he wrote, "insult[s] the intelligence of the American people".

For anyone who appreciates the critical need for independent and varied sources of news this is a big concern.  The On The Media clip and Greenwald's column are both worth examining for further important details.  

Can Al Jazeera hire a number of Americans, produce content in America and still have a unique voice?  We'll see.  But the signs don't look that great.

I'll will be contacting my local TV station to ask if they will be changing what they broadcast.  I hope they stick to Al Jazeera English.  AJE is far from perfect.  They have pulled punches on major stories and their editorials on American issues are often off the mark.  But they offer coverage in parts of the world no one else will visit and their unique perspective is always worth listening to.  What I don't need is another CNN-like American channel.

By the way, did anyone else note the curious "diary" offered today by the "user" Sponsored Content Author and that comments were not allowed.  

hmmmm...

UPDATE #1:  serendipityisabitch has enlightened me about the item I brought up in my last paragraph.  I missed an earlier diary because I was scanning them for "Al Jazeera" and missed the sponsored content reference.  That diary explains the unusual ad placement.

UPDATE #2:  Al Jazeera has blocked out Al Jazeera English and is only offering Al Jazeera America.  This is from their web site:

The Al Jazeera English live stream is no longer available in the U.S.

Starting tomorrow, August 20th, you’ll be able to watch more of the in-depth reporting and great content you love on the new Al Jazeera America television channel.

Click here to see if your local television provider will be carrying Al Jazeera America. If not, let your voice be heard and please request it today.

UPDATE #3:

The company that provides content to my local channel, Mhz Worldview also can no longer distribute Al Jazeera English.  I am really disappointed.  I suspect that Al Jazeera marketing "experts" never read much about the  Cocacola Classic incident.  From Mhz Worldview website:

Al Jazeera English Departs MHz on August 20

On Tuesday, August 20, Al Jazeera English will cease its distribution of the channel in the United States. That means it’s newscasts will no longer be available on MHz Worldview nationally or as a full time channel on MHz Networks 5 in the Washington, DC metro area. The live streaming of AJE on their website will also not be available any longer in the U.S. either.  Instead, Al Jazeera will be launching a new and different channel called Al Jazeera America, which is exclusively available on American cable (not thru sources like MHz.)

NEW PROGRAMS IN PLACE OF AJE CONTENT

Nationally (MHz Worldview) and online/apps/Google TV, Roku

• The 8 AM ET AJE Newscast will be replaced with Ethiopian TV News in English.

• The 7 PM ET AJE Newscast will be replaced with Debate (France 24), a live debate on the topic of the day, presented by François Picard.

Locally in Washington, DC

• Blue Ocean Network (BON) will launch in place of AJE on MHz Networks 5 in Washington, DC on digital channel 30.5, Comcast 275, Cox 474 and Verizon FiOS 452.

A FEW POINTS TO NOTE

- Al Jazeera English is no longer distributed in the United States, consequently making the channel unavailable to MHz Networks.  

- This is a decision made by Al Jazeera, not MHz Networks.  

- The elimination of the AJE channel in the U.S. was made by Al Jazeera so they could launch their new product, Al Jazeera America.

-Al Jazeera America is available on cable, satellite and telco where Current TV used to be available.

-Viewers should check with their local provider to confirm the availability of Al Jazeera America in the package you may subscribe to. You may need to upgrade services. To see where you can watch Al Jazeera America in your area, click here.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION FROM AL JAZEERA

Additional information about the new Al Jazeera America is here.

CONTACTING AL JAZEERA WITH VIEWER COMMENTS MHz viewers can contact AJE here or their Facebook.

Additionally, MHz viewers can contact AJ America at: america@aljazeera.net

Catherine Castro +1-202-649-0475 Catherine.Castro@aljazeera.net

Naomi Bulochnikov +1-213-404-1364 Naomi.Bulochnikov@aljazeera.net  

OR  on the AJ America Facebook page.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (8+ / 0-)

    I'm not liberal. I'm actually just anti-evil, OK? - Elon James White

    by Satya1 on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 08:33:55 AM PDT

  •  Dunno, My Provider's Name Rhymes With Slime (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Senor Unoball, Satya1, Catte Nappe

    warmer and they won't carry it.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 08:36:35 AM PDT

  •  DishNetwork carries the channel (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Satya1, MRA NY

    I'll tune in for a while tonight and see what it's like.

    •  CenturyLink carried Current but opted to not carry (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Satya1, Senor Unoball, IL clb

      Al Jazeera.  Nothing like giving subscribers a choice:  I pay for countless number of sports channels (which I never watch) nor do I watch any of the Fox channels.  I would like to have judged for myself whether or not the new network is worth watching.  (I did post my disappointment/disgust on CL's Facebook page.  Waiting to see if there is a response....)

      ""How long does getting thin take?" Pooh asked anxiously." -- A. A. Milne

      by pittie70 on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 09:02:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I feel fortunate to be able to pull in (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Senor Unoball

        many broadcast channels.  I get a wide variety of international news from non-American productions, 7 PBS channels, 3 movie channels, 1 children's channel and all the local stuff.  It's enough for us and a lot cheaper.

        The monopolistic cable setup, basic package minimums and mediocre news channels are why I left cable.

        I'm not liberal. I'm actually just anti-evil, OK? - Elon James White

        by Satya1 on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 09:28:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  You may not have seen (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Satya1, Catte Nappe

    this diary, which posted at about the same time the AJAM ad went up.

    Interesting information.

    At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

    by serendipityisabitch on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 08:59:51 AM PDT

  •  Watched it a few times. Seems to me to be only (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Satya1

    marginally better than the other vapid inane news networks

    One failed attempt at a shoe bomb and we all take off our shoes at the airport. Thirty-one school shootings since Columbine and no change in our regulation of guns. --- John Oliver

    by voroki on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 09:05:28 AM PDT

  •  It sounds like theyve screwed themselves (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Satya1

    by listening too hard to the usual cast of overpaid overfed American blowhard 'advisors'. COMCAST will carry it (unlike AJE) so I'll have a look. But I'm not encouraged. If I wanted CNN I'd just watch CNN.

  •  News media are only worth a crap (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Satya1

    when they expose the other guy's actual wrongdoings.  They're worse than useless when they praise or defend.

    Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

    by corvo on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 09:13:00 AM PDT

  •  We shall see (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Satya1

    I just checked and they've already shut down their live feed. There's a pirate feed of Current and that's still on the air. I think Al Jazeera America is going live at noon Eastern time. Might be fun to watch the big switchover.

    Meanwhile I'm sure that the Aljazeera English will still be around for the rest of the English speaking world. The trouble will be finding an internet feed.

    "Societies strain harder and harder to sustain the decadent opulence of the ruling class, even as it destroys the foundations of productivity and wealth." — Chris Hedges

    by Crider on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 09:36:10 AM PDT

  •  Yes, I saw the other story (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Crider, Satya1

    by new user Sponsored Content Author, apparently a version of Daily Kos Staff, Front Page/Daily Kos editors. At first I took it for spam. I would like an explanation if we are taking paid ads on the Front Page, and another explanation for disabling comments.

    Some of us have posted brief comments as tags.

       sponsored content
        first post
        comments disabled
        please enable comments
        Comcast yes
        Time Warner no
        Uverse yes
        DirecTV yes
        Dish yes
        see satya1

    Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

    by Mokurai on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 09:42:36 AM PDT

  •  I have the introductory show (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Satya1, Catte Nappe

    This Is Al Jazeera, scheduled on my DVR at 3 PM EDT.

    A preview of Al Jazeera America's shows and brand of journalism
    The new lineup includes various news shows with no descriptions yet in the Comcast schedule, plus
    • Inside Story, with insiders, natch
    • Fault Lines, a series of documentaries
    • Real Money with Ali Velshi
    • The Stream, news via social media
    • America Tonight, with issues neglected by the MSM
    • Consider This, hosted by Antonio Mora
    • One-off documentaries on cholera, child slavery, the risks of climbing Mt. Everest, checkpoints in Israel/Palestine, the rise of China since 1920,…
    • The Frost Interview (no description)
    • Talk to Al Jazeera, interview show starting with Cornel West
    • TechKnow, on technology

    There are many documentaries listed with a title and no description so far.

    Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

    by Mokurai on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 09:56:22 AM PDT

  •  They are hiring some good people (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Satya1, Catte Nappe

    They should be hiring Americans.  That's kind of the point of Al-Jazeera America.  This isn't going to replace their channel from Quatar, or their international coverage.

    The main thing is they are hiring good people.

    http://america.aljazeera.com/...

    I know this guy, from the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting:

    http://america.aljazeera.com/...

    “Al Jazeera America is committed to producing ambitious, impactful investigative journalism,’’ Aaronson says. “We are headed to America’s halls of power to tell the stories that aren’t being told.”
    I don't think it matters if there's a former CNN talking head or two as an acnhor or special reporter.  Obviously they want ratings as well, and some familiar faces won't hurt.  But the quality of the investigative reporting is really going to determine the value of the content.  And I think the team they are putting together there shows some real promise.
    •  Sorry to disappoint (0+ / 0-)
      This isn't going to replace their channel from Quatar
      This appears to not be true.  People in the US will not be able to stream AJE nor will people be able to view AJE via Mhz Worldview.

      It appears to be a complete replacement in the US of AJE with AJAM.

      Unless you can link a source that distributes AJE in the US?

      I'm not liberal. I'm actually just anti-evil, OK? - Elon James White

      by Satya1 on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 10:16:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  didn't realize that (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Satya1

        damn.  

        You used to be able to stream this on the internet, right?

        If so, maybe you only need to use a proxy, to fool them into thinking you are outside the US.  But a lot of people either won't want to bother or won't know how to do this.  

        I used to be able to get it on the Roku though as well.  Doing that might be more difficult.

        •  yeah, update #2 (0+ / 0-)

          in the diary is direct from the streaming page on their website.  

          It really irks me that they remove the choices we could make.  And if you listen to the clip of Kim Bondy from the second diary link at about minute 2 she says some things that make your heart sink about what it is going to be like.

          I could see problems with AJE, but they were problems that educated me about the cultural perspective of the people that delivered AJE.  And it is also part of what made their perspective of the US all the more authentic.

          Good people or not, I don't need another american cable news channel.  Most of the US media industry can no longer see the distorted view they have.

          I sincerely hope AJAM proves me wrong.  But the factors are not in their favor.

          I'm not liberal. I'm actually just anti-evil, OK? - Elon James White

          by Satya1 on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 10:54:36 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  American Media (0+ / 0-)

            True, most of it sucks, but I think that's why we need a new channel.  Truth is, most of the US media doesn't even represent the viewpoints of the American people, instead they feed us the point of view of a bubble-sheltered elite.  

            It's maybe a bit odd that we would need Al-Jazeera to come in and correct that, but I think they see that as an opportunity.  And I think they believe the message will find a larger audience if it's coming from other Americans.  

  •  6 minutes of ads per hour! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    acerimusdux

    That alone is enough for me to program my remote to Verizon channel 114   ALL the other channels have 16 to 18 minutes of commercials per hour.
    But if content is missing, or if all the ads are Cialis and Viagra commercials, I'm outa there.  

  •  Haven't watched TV in a decade. n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    poliwrangler
  •  dropped by AT&T U-Verse (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wayoutinthestix, Satya1

    within an hour of launch. "contract dispute" sounds bogus

    http://www.thewrap.com/...

    •  Good, I wasn't going to watch it anyway (0+ / 0-)

      I'll stick with Big Bang Theory re-runs

    •  interesting (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ypsiCPA

      I found another link there that was also informative:

      5 Reasons Why Al Jazeera America Could Fail

      I don't see how they pull this off unless the Qatar money is willing to subsidize it for a long, long time.

      I'm not liberal. I'm actually just anti-evil, OK? - Elon James White

      by Satya1 on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 01:42:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Maybe I'll get to watch after all (0+ / 0-)

        UPDATE: Al Jazeera has filed a suit against AT&T after the company dropped the just-launched network earlier today.

        Al Jazeera released the following statement:

        “Al Jazeera America made a decision to seek judicial intervention in its dispute with AT&T. Unfortunately AT&T’s decision to unilaterally delete Al Jazeera America presented us with circumstances that were untenable — an affiliate that has willfully and knowingly breached its contractual obligations. Accordingly, we had no choice but to take this action and to enforce Al Jazeera America’s rights under its agreement with AT&T — and to compel AT&T to do the right thing.
        Al Jazeera America’s strong hope is to resolve this matter quickly so that AT&T’s customers will have access to our unbiased, fact-based and in depth coverage of the news that is important to Americans.”

        http://insidetv.ew.com/...

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