Tell Time Warner to Carry Al Jazeera’s American Network

Time Warner Cable HQ

Target: Glenn Britt, Time Warner CEO

Goal: Give Americans broader access to quality information by airing the Al Jazeera America news network

Earlier this month, Al Jazeera news network bought Al Gore’s Current TV. Hours after the deal, Current was dropped by Time Warner Cable. Time Warner’s decision to drop the network appears to be a politically motivated move based upon the falsely constructed fear of a previous decade. Time Warner should immediately begin negotiations to air the new Al Jazeera America Channel.

Both John McCain and Hillary Clinton praised the network for its opposition to dictators across the Middle East. The Qatar-based network also won a Peabody Award for its essential coverage of the Arab Spring. However, the network has had difficulty making inroads into the United States in part because of its reporting of the Iraq war and its decision to air tapes of al Qaeda, according to The Huffington Post. The Bush Administration broadly condemned Al Jazeera, accusing it of being anti-American. Concerns linger over the network’s editorial perspective, and since its inception in 2006, most cable providers have refused to carry Al Jazeera’s English language channel.

Many observers have criticized Time Warner’s decision. Dan Warner, a technology writer and founding director of the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at Arizona State University, called the move “abject political and journalistic cowardice.”  The Daily Beast’s Patrick Theros expressed puzzlement, writing, “It appeared to me that the first Arab network to spread democratic principles and free speech would be accepted with open arms in the U.S.”

Whatever its motivation, Time Warner’s move was seriously misguided. Every news organization, particularly the more popular cable news networks, has an editorial perspective. Time Warner’s decision simply denies its subscribers access to international, award-winning reporting on a badly underreported, misunderstood region of the world. Time Warner should treat its customers as adults and allow Al Jazeera compete fairly in the United States. Sign the petition below and urge Time Warner to air Al Jazeera America.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Britt,

I am disappointed by your decision to drop Current TV after Al Jazeera purchased the network.

Despite the controversy that surrounded Al Jazeera in a politically heated moment, it has shown a strong commitment to quality reporting. Both John McCain and Hillary Clinton have praised the network’s outspoken stance against dictators across the Middle East. Its essential coverage of the Arab Spring won international acclaim, including a Peabody Award.

By dropping Current, you are denying your customers access to international, award-winning reporting from a badly underreported, misunderstood region of the world. Airing Al Jazeera’s new network would demonstrate a forward thinking approach to broadcasting and a commitment to delivering quality programming, whatever its source. I urge you to carry Al Jazeera English and give the network a fair shot at competing in the United States.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Ildar Sagdejev via Wikimedia Commons

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