29 June 2009

Welcome, Al Jazeera

Good news. The CRTC is expected to allow the Al Jazeera English-language television network to be broadcast in Canada. The Qatar-based international network has been attempting to enter this country since 2003. The CRTC approved carriage of the Arab version at that time but attached such stringent conditions none of Canada's major carriers wanted to take it on. It has agreed to work with some of its opponents such as the Canadian Jewish Congress and B'nai Brith Canada and has agreed to have its on-air content reviewed ever six months. These concessions are a slap in the face to freedom of the press but such is the power of the Israeli lobby.

While I welcome the entrance of Al Jazeera TV into the Canadian broadcasting realm, the network is not new to me. I have been checking out its English website daily for years. Although not as edgy as the Arabic version, it nonetheless provides something of an alternative to the Western media while doing some excellent journalism. It was, for instance, the only international English network on the ground during the recent Israeli invasion of Gaza.

Tony Berman, managing director of Al Jazeera English and former CBC executive, says the network is trying to shed some of the old stereotypes about anti-Western bias. Considering that it's material is watered down from the Arabic version already, I hope he doesn't go too far. Some of that bias is a refreshing change from the Western-centric, pro-Israel perspective of the commercial media in this country.


  1. Have you ever tried LiveStation? It comes with Aljazeera pre-installed (and a whole bunch of other free stations such as bbc, france24, etc) and is completely free!

    I can recommend it:


  2. The point in receiving Al Jazeera English is that I want a station that doesn't have a pro-western bias. I want it to have a pro-Arab bias. I want to watch a station from an Arabic perspective. If I want to watch pro-western stations, I can watch
    BBC World, France 24, CNN, CBC, CTV, etc.

  3. That is indeed good news. Something to keep in mind though is this:

    The BBC and Al Jazeera are two of the world's biggest broadcasters. Arab Media Watch monitored how their respective English-language websites reported acts of violence between Israelis and Palestinians for four months, from 1 February to 31 May 2009. AMW analysed the prominence of each side's viewpoint and version of events by monitoring how many words were devoted to quoting and paraphrasing Israeli and Palestinian sources, and in what order they were reported. AMW also analysed the prevalence with which each side is portrayed as instigating or responding to violence. The results are startling, not just due to the one-sidedness of BBC coverage, but also because Al Jazeera fared little better. - Link