20 Aug 2013
Al Jazeera America
Today, 20 August 2013, marked the debut of a new cable news channel: Al Jazeera America, a brand-new offering from Al Jazeera.
This is a good thing, in a way, but a very bad thing as well. Here’s why:
Al Jazeera English is now basically unavailable in the USA. If you try to visit the Al Jazeera English website (www.aljazeera.com) from an American IP address, you’ll be redirected to Al Jazeera America (america.aljazeera.com). If you visit the Al Jazeera English YouTube channel from an American IP address, you’ll find that there are now almost no videos there.
As I write this, I can still access Al Jazeera English news stories via the iPad app, and I can watch videos that are associated with news stories, but the live feed is dead now: you just get a message stating “The video you are trying to watch cannot be viewed from your current location.” I strongly suspect they’re going to lock down the mobile apps much more tightly real soon, too.
Why is this? Because cable-TV providers don’t want Al Jazeera giving away its content for free on the Internet when they’re carrying Al Jazeera programming on their cable-TV systems.
So, those of us who live in America but do not subscribe to cable TV have basically lost access to Al Jazeera English content. All we get is whatever limited content Al Jazeera America chooses to offer on the Web.
In America, our news media can mostly be classified under two broad rubrics:
- The Beltway-consensus media
- The partisan political media
This is why those of us who pay attention to what’s happening in the world often turn to foreign news sources: BBC World News, France 24, Al Jazeera English. CNN and the networks are vapid, extremely dumb, and completely useless; Fox News and the right-wing media are garbage; and now, with the advent of MSNBC’s Blue-Team programming, we’ve got partisan Democrat garbage as well.
Al Jazeera English has always been a very useful source of information; they pay attention to many stories ignored by American media, and have been refreshingly free of Beltway-consensus bullshit and brain-dead Red-Team/Blue-Team pabulum.
I think it’s great that they’re launching a news channel that will bring their perspective to America, but it really sucks that it has to be at such a cost: to me, the loss of Al Jazeera English wouldn’t be worth having the new Al Jazeera America, even if I had cable TV and could actually watch the damn thing.
As it is, I’ve lost access to Al Jazeera English and gotten nothing at all in return for it.
It’ll be interesting to see what happens. I’d like to see Al Jazeera America be successful, but I can’t help but feel angry and embittered that one of my most important go-to sources of news has basically disappeared for me.