As of August 20th, a new TV news channel quietly and without much fanfare began broadcasting, having purchased the FCC license formerly owned by Current TV (famously co-founded by Al Gore). That channel: Al Jazeera America.
Al Jazeera America’s original plan was to have about 60% of U.S. specific coverage, with the remaining 40% coming from their existing Al Jazeera English programming.
However, that’s now changed to having coverage generated almost entirely by their U.S. based news teams, with additional input from their international organizations.
In an interesting peripheral detail, apparently they’re broadcasting with far fewer commercial advertisements than their competitors (CNN, MSNBC, Fox, etc.).
At present, according to Al Jazeera, the channel is available in roughly 40% of all U.S. households, and is being carried by DirecTV, Dish, Comcast, 4DTV, Verizon fiber, and other down-market cable carriers. AT&T U-verse doesn’t have it, and word is Al Jazeera and AT&T are in a legal tussle over an alleged breach-of-contract by AT&T. Time-Warner Cable is currently in negotiations.
As I’ve been composing this post, I’ve been watching it on DirecTV, and unfortunately they still have the low-rez signal. Still, it’s watchable, and in the last hour they’ve been covering the Bradley Manning sentencing. Now, at the top of the hour, they’re covering reports of the alleged Syrian chemical attack.
In general, except for the relative (and rather refreshing) lack of excessive commercials, it looks and feels like any other TV news channel, although with a slightly different (and what feels like a more progressive) spin on the coverage.
Anyway, if you want to see how and where to tune into Al Jazeera America, you can go to their website and enter your zipcode in the box in the upper right. I’ll definitely be checking it out over the next few days/weeks.
Besides, every time Al Jazeera America gains another viewer, Bill O’Reilly’s blood pressure goes up by another point. It’s worth watching for that alone.