The launch of Al Jazeera America following AJ’s acquisition of Current TV is good news for Americans who currently depend on the meager offerings from the cable news channels.
Time Warner Cable might have no corporate affiliation with Time Warner, owner of CNN, but its hard not to assume that AJ’s deeper penetration into the market is unwelcome news in many quarters of the industry.
As regular viewers of Al Jazeera English are already aware, the quality of news analysis and overall production standards at AJ are significantly superior to the crass product that has become standard fare on cable news.
The decision to stick with the Al Jazeera brand seems to me both bold and smart. To have adopted a new non-Arabic name would simply have offered new ammunition to those who regard the name as tainted or subversive. Much better will be for the audience to form its own views and discover that the Qatar-based broadcaster, far from posing a threat to America, has the potential to raise the abysmally low standards of American news television.
Huffington Post: Time Warner Cable pulled the plug on Current TV just hours after news of the cable channel’s sale to Al Jazeera became official.
“This channel is no longer available on Time Warner Cable,” read an on-screen message where Current TV used to be found.
Al Jazeera took a major step into the U.S. cable market Wednesday by acquiring beleaguered Current TV and announcing plans for a U.S.-based news network to be called Al Jazeera America. But while the new channel will soon be available in 40 million households, Al Jazeera faced a setback when Time Warner Cable — which reaches 12 million homes — announced it was dropping the low-rated Current, which occupied a spot that could have been switched to Al Jazeera America.
Joel Hyatt, who co-founded Current TV with former Vice President Al Gore, told staff in a Wednesday night memo that Time Warner Cable “did not consent to the sale to Al Jazeera.”
“Consequently, Current will no longer be carried on TWC,” Hyatt wrote. “This is unfortunate, but I am confident that Al Jazeera America will earn significant additional carriage in the months and years ahead.”
A Time Warner Cable spokesman said in a statement that “our agreement with Current will be terminated and we will no longer be carrying the channel.”
Some media observers interpreted the move as motivated by politics.
“Time-Warner cable shows abject political and journalistic cowardice by dropping Current because of Al Jazeera deal,” tweeted Dan Gilmor, a technology writer and founding director of the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at Arizona State University.
About the author: Paul Woodward
Paul Woodward describes himself by nature if not profession, as a bricoleur. A dictionary of obscure words defines a bricoleur as “someone who continually invents his own strategies for comprehending reality.” Woodward has at various times been an editor, designer, software knowledge architect, and Buddhist monk, while living in England, France, India, and for the last twenty years the United States. He currently lives frugally in the Southern Appalachians with his wife, Monica, two cats and a dog Woodward maintains the popular website/blog, War in Context (http://warincontext.org), which "from its inception, has been an effort to apply critical intelligence in an arena where political judgment has repeatedly been twisted by blind emotions. It presupposes that a world out of balance will inevitably be a world in conflict."