Comcast customers won't get Al Jazeera

by Ramzi Zakharia, Arabisto

With less than 24 hours until the launch of Al Jazeera International (click here to watch online), Comcast, the largest cable company in the US, declared their intention not to carry the channel. Jenni Moyer, spokesperson for Comcast said that early talks did not lead to any agreements.

That does mean that this

door is forever shut. Let's consider the fact that Comcast is the main cable provider in areas like Detroit, California, Florida and New Jersey, among others. All these areas also happen to have a major concentration of Arab American residents. Do you see where I'm going with this?

For many of us who have been considering a migration to Satelite TV, this may the tipping point needed. Now, while DISH Network has yet to announce a deal with the new AJI, it's almost a guarantee they will in light of their deal with the current Arabic language channel.

So far, other carriers in the US include Globecast, the french owned satelite company dedicated to international programming, Jump TV and VCN for Broadband homes, and Fision, a small fiber cable company in Houston.

Also of interest, in Israel, there is an equal amount of carriers for AJI than the entire US. That should tell you something about freedom of the press here. In Italy and in the UK, it's Rupert Murdoch's SKY channel that will carry AJI (sorry AIM). Murdoch also owns the Fox family of networks. I wonder if the "fair and balanced" right wing radicals over at Fox News will be vocal about what their parent company is doing.

Al Jazeera is one of the top recognized brand in the world right now. From an Arab perspective, it's by far the most recognized brand. Wether we like it or hate it, this one is ours. Its success or failure is also, to a certain extent, up to us. So, pick up the phone, call your cable operator, and request the channel. Start a petition in your church, mosque, organization, etc. Let's make it happen.

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The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey