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How could this happen in the land of free speech and free markets?

We keep telling ourselves that the USA is a shining beacon of freedom, and yet, most Americans aren’t being allowed to watch Al Jazeera’s English-language channel on our TVs.

Is it because of lack of demand? No — the three cities in the US where Al Jazeera English is broadcast have high viewership numbers. Over 50,000 people have written to their cable and satellite carriers to request the channel.

It is because they are biased toward Islamic terrorists? No, Al Jazeera’s coverage of the recent uprisings in the Middle East were widely praised by journalists both in the US and around the world. Even in Israel, Al Jazeera is available and widely watched.

And yet, the major cable and satellite carriers in the US refuse to carry Al Jazeera. And when when Comcast and Time Warner even started talking to Al Jazeera, conservatives reacted quickly with a petition to keep Al Jazeera off the airwaves.

I guess freedom of speech only applies if you say things our corporate-owned media likes. And as for free markets … you have got to be kidding me.



  1. Eli Reiter wrote:

    And the real haters, the Westboro Baptist Church, got a pass from the Supreme Court.

    Nice work, guys.

    Friday, March 18, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Permalink
  2. PatriotSGT wrote:

    I say replace Jersey Shore with Al Jazeera that alone would improve TV immeasurably

    Friday, March 18, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Permalink
  3. Jeff wrote:

    I didn’t realize the first amendment came with fine print. In practice, I don’t think I would watch Al Jazeera, but on principle it should be allowed on the air in America.

    When Howard Stern got booted off radio, his argument was that if you didn’t like what he said you could just change the channel. Let’s let the people decide what they want to listen to.

    Saturday, March 19, 2011 at 11:53 am | Permalink
  4. Don wrote:

    I’ve been watching Al Jazeera for the past two months as events have unfolded in the Middle East and Africa. I find its coverage, for the most part, to be insightful and thorough. They have brought in numerous points of view although I they do noticeably lean toward the rebels/revolutionaries.

    I have caught Al Jazeera on DISH for a segment or two in the evenings on COLR, I believe. Don’t really look for it because it’s on 24/7 on the internet at:

    @Jeff: Stern had difficulties with what he wanted to broadcast, but had bigger issues finding a bigger pay day which sat radio gave him. At the same time, I agree with you that people can turn off what offends them.

    Saturday, March 19, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Permalink
  5. Iron Knee wrote:

    Jeff, this isn’t a first amendment issue. The first amendment only prohibits the government from infringing on free speech.

    Although the fact that many people confuse corporate censorship with government censorship should cause some due amount of consternation.

    Saturday, March 19, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Permalink