The best television coverage of the Egyptian revolution has been and remains unavailable to most Americans for no good reason. This is why there’s been a huge surge of traffic in the United States to Al Jazeera English’s website.
Regardless of your feelings about AJE’s slant, the network has had the most comprehensive, on-the-ground coverage of the continuing anti-government protests in Egypt, by far. Unlike any US networks, AJE has fully staffed reporting teams working around the clock in Cairo and other less-traveled regions in Egypt. Even Dave Marash, the former Washington anchor of AJE and a 16-year Nightline veteran who quit the network in acrimony two years ago, considers Al Jazeera English “must-see TV.”
But other than in a handful of places across the US—including Ohio, Vermont and Washington, DC—cable viewers can’t watch Al Jazeera. Some cable operators have blamed political pressure. Others have said they have little time for it despite packages of 500 channels covering a vast range of niche interests.
For its part, as Jillian York detailed in a recent blog post for MondoWeiss, Al Jazeera has recently launched a slick campaign encouraging viewers to implore their local providers to offer the channel. The site also encourages meetups for individuals to come together around their appreciation for the channel and offers this video testimony making the case for the network’s inclusion in US cable packages.
Clearly, there’s demand for the programming. Last week YouTube started promoting a live stream of the channel, supplementing the channel’s own Web stream and the noncommercial broadcaster MHz Worldview said it had expanded the number of hours that it simulcasts Al Jazeera English each day.
Meanwhile, Link TV, which is available on DirecTV and the Dish Network, continues to pre-empt other programming to show Al Jazeera for extended periods of time.
And since October 2009, Free Speech TV has also been airing Al Jazeera English on Dish Network ch. 9415 and DirecTV 348, and making it available, along with the rest of its lineup, to some 300 community run cable stations coast to coast, as GRITtv and FSTV host Laura Flanders pointed out in a related post.