All That Jazeera
Do you wish that you had instant access to Arab propaganda 24/7? If you have ATT U-verse cable service, soon you will! Yes, the Arab satellite TV network Al Jazeera (AJ) , owned by the government of Qatar, has bought Current TV and will be available here on Channel 189 in a few weeks. (1)
Al Jazeera (Arabic for The (Arabian) Penninsula) was founded by the Emir of Qatar in November, 1996, to provide Arabic programming throughout the Middle East. In 2006, Al Jazeera English (AJE) was launched to provide an Arab viewpoint to English-speaking TV viewers in both the Middle East and Europe, plus internet viewers worldwide. The new service, to be known as Al Jazeera America (AJA), will draw 40% of its programming from AJE and the other 60% will be produced in the United States. AJA intends to hire 300 new employees in the US and open news-bureaus in major American cities.
Current TV was founded by former Vice President Al Gore and Attorney Joel Hyatt in 2005 to provide a liberal voice on cable TV. It failed to generate sufficient revenue to continue operating.
In the tightly-censored Arab world, Al Jazeera has been a breath of fresh air; unlike other state-controlled Arab media , AJ has aired controversial material, including the first appearances of Israeli politicians on Arab TV. AJ has been honored for its coverage of the Gulf War, the Iraq War and the Arab Spring revolutions, especially the one in Egypt. But AJ has an explicitly Arab viewpoint: it maintains a news bureau in Gaza and gives priority to "Palestine" news, as though it were always the most important news of the day. AJE is known to have a more conciliatory tone toward the West than its Arabic affiliate.
I hope that many qualified Jewish journalists will apply for jobs with Al Jazeera America, if only to test AJA's compliance with American anti-discrimination laws. But even if the network has a diverse staff and gives some voice to diverse opinions on the Middle East, I am sure that the dominant view will be pro-Palestinian and pro-Muslim; I am also sure that American Muslims will be its main audience.
Gerald S Glazer