Al Jazeera, arguably the most polarizing media outlet of the last 15 years, is pressing to get its play on U.S. television. The international network does get beamed into national broadcast acquisition areas for monitoring of news reports, video, and breaking news purposes, but it is not widely available on satellite or cable television.
Although it is streamed on the Web in most states, the network has launched campaigns on Meetup.com and more importantly Twitter to direct and all but demand that people “meetup” on February 10th to fight for its “rights.” But do we really want Al Jazeera in our homes?
With the constantly changing situation in Egypt and the fact that everything is Internet-related, including the landlines and cell phones that had been cut to the outside world, Al Jazeera has, to many, provided a service to those desperate for information.
Some argue it is capitalizing on the situation in Egypt with its English speaking reports. An NPR social guru gave the network props for it’s coverage. Salon went as far as saying that the network has been “embarrassing U.S. TV.”
This is also the same Al Jazeera that has been more than willing to be an enabler for the mainstream spread of al Qaeda messaging and propaganda across its airwaves since 9/11. Some experts say the network has a lot of power over public opinion in the Middle East, which is not always a good thing. And that’s only scratches surface in terms of how negatively Al Jazeera has been perceived in the U.S. in the past.
Is disallowing Al Jazeera in the U.S. censorship? A violation of freedom of speech? We’ll see come February 10th.