Globalvision‘s Danny Schechter and Rory O’Connor have posted a three-minute video commentary on the debut of the English-language Al-Jazeera International channel. It’s worth checking out. Schechter and O’Connor want American cable operators to carry the channel, which they have so far declined to do. But I’m not sure whether that’s all that important.
After all, you can watch a live stream of Al-Jazeera International right here. And if you don’t mind a low-quality stream that has to be refreshed every 15 minutes, you don’t even have to pay. It’s a great example of the increasing irrelevance of big media companies, and it will become more of an option over the next few years, as television and the Internet become one.
Two dissenting voices.
First, the extremely predictable Jeff Jarvis responds with his standard critique: They’re clueless! To wit: “It’s foolish that they try to charge a monthly fee for watching the stream and even more foolish that they based the business on getting cable carriage. If they’d just put the channel up online, they’d be getting a huge audience today.” Hmmm … well, maybe. Somehow, though, I don’t think HBO would be doing as well if it were streaming for free on the Web. (And, as Jarvis acknowledges, Al-Jazeera International is streaming for free — just not the way he’d like.)
It is unthinkable that America would allow avowed enemies to move here, set down roots, flourish and grow, and then manipulate our citizens into thinking that our own government is the enemy rather than they. Yet as FSM Contributing Editor Cinnamon Stillwell points out, this abomination is exactly what has happened with Al Jazeera International as it sets up shop right under our noses in Washington, D.C. Imagine that!
I’m going to confess that I have not slogged all the way through Stillwell’s screed. I just wanted to point out that the notion that Ignorance Is Good is alive and well. I mean, why on earth would we want to know what Al-Jazeera is reporting? Is Stillwell afraid we might learn something?
Personally, I would rather see the regular, Arabic-language Al-Jazeera channel with subtitles than Al-Jazeera International. Though I don’t think Al-Jazeera is quite the spawn of Satan that its critics would have it, I am curious to know whether the message it tells its viewers in the Arab and Muslim world is different from what it streams to the West.