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caliwxdude

Al Jazeera buying Current TV?

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Looks like Al Jazeera has finally figured out a viable way to get onto American cable lineups. From the New York Times: Al Jazeera Is Said to be Acquiring Current TV.

 

Of particular interest from the linked article:

Rather than simply use Current to distribute its English-language channel, called Al Jazeera English and based in Doha, Qatar, Al Jazeera will create a new channel based in New York, according to people with knowledge of the deal negotiations. The channel may be called Al Jazeera America. Roughly 60 percent of the programming will be produced in the United States, while the remaining 40 percent will come from Al Jazeera English.

It's pretty shocking to me that they're planning to just burn money by starting up a new linear cable news network, but I guess the Middle East has plenty of funds to throw around at various projects these days.

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Obviously I'm not privy to the terms of the contract between the MSOs and Current TV... but from the outside looking in, that seems like it would be a material enough change in the product, that it would allow MSOs who still would prefer not to carry an Al Jazeera channel to terminate the contract and drop the channel. For example, contractual obligations are the reasons that SoapNET still exists on many MSOs, even though Disney Jr. was supposed to have replaced it.

 

Besides, another story I read recently on Dateline:Hollywood indicated that Time Warner Cable was already considering dropping Current and other low rated cable channels.

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Besides, another story I read recently on Dateline:Hollywood indicated that Time Warner Cable was already considering dropping Current and other low rated cable channels.

AT&T U-Verse dropped Current from the basic news tier a few months ago.

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Words cannot describe how excited I am by this news. I loved Current TV in its early indie days, but it's been in an identity crisis ever since they dropped the 3-7 pod format a few years ago. I also think this is a really smart move on Al Jazeera's behalf to finally get a strong foothold in the American market with an American variant of AJE.

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Deadline:Hollywood confirms the news. They also confirm that Time Warner Cable would not consent to the sale, will not carry the channel, and will be removing it from the lineup ASAP.

 

Words cannot describe how excited I am by this news. I loved Current TV in its early indie days, but it's been in an identity crisis ever since they dropped the 3-7 pod format a few years ago. I also think this is a really smart move on Al Jazeera's behalf to finally get a strong foothold in the American market with an American variant of AJE.

Not so strong... Current only reaches about 59 million homes, but that appears to include Time Warner Cable's 12.2 million customers.

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Deadline:Hollywood confirms the news. They also confirm that Time Warner Cable would not consent to the sale, will not carry the channel, and will be removing it from the lineup ASAP.

 

Wow. Fairly shocking move on TWC's part. I wonder if this will derail the sale and perhaps shut down Current TV for good.

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Deadline:Hollywood confirms the news. They also confirm that Time Warner Cable would not consent to the sale, will not carry the channel, and will be removing it from the lineup ASAP.

 

Not so strong... Current only reaches about 59 million homes, but that appears to include Time Warner Cable's 12.2 million customers.

That's still a huge improvement over AJE's current presence in the U.S., which is limited to a handful of cable outlets in New York, DC, and Burlington, Vermont, as well as a daily simulcast on some PBS subchannels. They've really struggled with building a presence in the U.S. market and overcoming the "Taliban TV" misrepresentation. 59 million isn't everybody, sure, but it's a big signal boost for AJE.

 

I know that I'm one of those 59 million who presently get Current, so I'm thrilled personally that my cable system will have Al Jazeera within three months.

 

 

 

 

Wow. Fairly shocking move on TWC's part. I wonder if this will derail the sale and perhaps shut down Current TV for good.

 

The sale is final. Forbes posted co-founder Joel Hyatt's memo to staffers.

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And to think that channel was once CBC Newsworld International. Outside of The Nashville Network becoming Spike, this might be the most dramatic example of channel drift ever.

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Excellent excellent EXCELLENT news! AJE has been fairly outstanding, and if the American variant is any close to that it will be a tremendous resource.

 

Current as it is was just a low quality ripoff of MSNBC. Al Jazeera America will be something different, unique, and probably truly needed.

 

And yes, Al Jazeera has a TON of money. They just started a sports channel, "BeIn Sport", that's launching in all major countries and has deals with all of the major and expensive soccer leagues. It was a part of the recent English Premier League negotiations in the US, though they didn't get the rights (NBComcast snatched up the rights from current holders Fox Soccer and ESPN).

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Wow. Fairly shocking move on TWC's part. I wonder if this will derail the sale and perhaps shut down Current TV for good.

Eh, Current is still on Comcast lineups, which some cursory Googling revealed has about twice the subscriber base as Time Warner Cable (but yes, TWC is concentrated in the large NY/LA population centers). If Al Jazeera America proves successful, you can bet TWC will add it back to their lineups. I think they were just pissed to be caught off guard by the sale, since both Comcast and DirecTV were aware of the sale negotiations given their minor ownership stakes in Current.

 

The real problem with Current is its crappy channel placement, and I think this will continue to plague Al Jazeera America. I don't have Comcast cable anymore, but even when I was forking $130 a month over to them, I still didn't know what channel Current was on. I think it was something in that high-100s wasteland of mostly broadcast digital subchannels. When Current first launched, DirecTV kept it in the Newsworld International slot, which put it right above MSNBC and Fox in the mid-300s news neighborhood. Not sure if that's still the case, but it's better than where Comcast has it.

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Guest NewsHound

I think this is a good idea because Al Jazeera is a powerful and reputable international news organization, however I have a feeling it might be felt with some backlash.

 

You have a lot of Americans who associate the Al Jazeera network to this day as the "Al Queda" network. Bad PR right there, a lot of very stupid people won't tune in to a network they associate with terrorists.

 

The misconceptions need to be cleared up, and possibly Al Jazeera needs to take on a different name on the US channel, because from a branding and marketing standpoint, that will be the fail-safe. If they immediately off the bat start airing as Al Jazeera America, they will be subject to the backlash, and therefore it will affect them negatively in viewership and ratings.

 

Besides, think about the extreme blue collar and "right-winged" people out there... "That sounds like one of them Al Queda propaganda channels"

 

Most of us more educated, left-winged, and moderate centrists like myself will most likely watch the network. For everyone else, there's FOX News and you bet your ass FOX News will be urging people to stay away from Al Jazeera America.

 

EDIT: Mind you, if BBC America decided airing U.S. National news coverage as well as their international coverage, could be a major contender against Al Jazeera America. Still, we all need an outlet for Doctor Who.

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^^^

 

I agree. I always thought that they might have more success overcoming that misperception if they started abbreviating themselves to AJE in all instances, or even calling it "The Peninsula" or "The Island" (what the name means in Arabic) as a metaphor for how unique a channel it is.

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This place seriously must have a bottomless pit of money somewhere.

 

If you work at their Doha headquarters, here are the benefits...

 

Ø Tax-Free Salary

 

 

Ø Housing

 

 

Ø Medical Coverage

 

 

Ø Education Allowance

 

 

Ø Car Purchase Loan

 

 

Ø Cash Loan

 

 

Ø Annual Airfares

 

 

Ø Training & Scholarships

 

 

Ø Sport Clubs Membership

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This place seriously must have a bottomless pit of money somewhere.

Yeah. It's called being owned by the government of Qatar, and having access to all that oil money.

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AJA launches on Tuesday, looks like it aims to avoid the current tabloid state of cable news.

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Well, in preparation for the launch of AJAM on Tuesday, Al Jazeera has done some things that may very well have compromised its following in the U.S....

 

1. AJE's live stream is no longer available online for U.S. viewers; this includes their website (see below,) the AJE Facebook page and their YouTube channel. However, the Livestation feed is still up as of this writing, even for U.S. viewers. Apparently, there have been problems with the geolocation software; some users in Europe were reported to have been shut off from the live stream as well.

 

2. AJE's home page will now redirect users in the U.S. to the Al Jazeera America site. Surprisingly, their Arabic sites remain online in the U.S., as well as all AJE pages other than the main page. In addition to the live stream, videos on the AJE site are also blocked to American viewers.

 

Let's just say that although there is an obvious reason for this (cable deals and stuff,) understandably a lot of AJE viewers in the U.S. are very pissed right now.

 

Edit: As of Tuesday, August 19, the Livestation feed is officially dead for U.S. viewers. Also, aljazeera.com now shows the AJE page.

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Well, in preparation for the launch of AJAM on Tuesday, Al Jazeera has done some things that may very well have compromised its following in the U.S....

 

1. AJE's live stream is no longer available online for U.S. viewers; this includes their website (see below,) the AJE Facebook page and their YouTube channel. However, the Livestation feed is still up as of this writing, even for U.S. viewers. Apparently, there have been problems with the geolocation software; some users in Europe were reported to have been shut off from the live stream as well.

 

2. AJE's home page will now redirect users in the U.S. to the Al Jazeera America site. Surprisingly, their Arabic sites remain online in the U.S., as well as all AJE pages other than the main page. In addition to the live stream, videos on the AJE site are also blocked to American viewers.

 

Let's just say that although there is an obvious reason for this (cable deals and stuff,) understandably a lot of AJE viewers in the U.S. are very pissed right now.

 

Do you know if AJAM will be livestreamed?

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I hope that AJAM is going to be better than FOX News and MSNBC. Both networks are a damn joke of a news network.

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Do you know if AJAM will be livestreamed?

 

There's been no official indication that they will at launch. In the future, maybe...

 

 

I hope that AJAM is going to be better than FOX News and MSNBC. Both networks are a damn joke of a news network.

 

Don't forget about CNN (Domestic, not International). All three are big jokes.

 

There's one thing they have going for them though: they don't have a big perception issue aside from partisan politics. Despite its worldwide notoriety for its in-depth journalism, in the U.S., Al Jazeera America will have major obstacles to overcome (Ignorant American viewer: "If you watch AJAM, you support TERRORISM!!!!1!!" :rolleyes: )

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There's one thing they have going for them though: they don't have a big perception issue aside from partisan politics. Despite its worldwide notoriety for its in-depth journalism, in the U.S., Al Jazeera America will have major obstacles to overcome (Ignorant American viewer: "If you watch AJAM, you support TERRORISM!!!!1!!" :rolleyes: )

 

Most people I know will not be watching for that very reason. If Uverse carries it on the U200 channel package I might stop by and take a look but Current is currently on the U300 pkg and there's no indication they're changing that...

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Most people I know will not be watching for that very reason. If Uverse carries it on the U200 channel package I might stop by and take a look but Current is currently on the U300 pkg and there's no indication they're changing that...

 

I actually have U-verse. Channel 189, U300 and above. I doubt they'll change it.

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Well, in preparation for the launch of AJAM on Tuesday, Al Jazeera has done some things that may very well have compromised its following in the U.S....

 

1. AJE's live stream is no longer available online for U.S. viewers; this includes their website (see below,) the AJE Facebook page and their YouTube channel. However, the Livestation feed is still up as of this writing, even for U.S. viewers. Apparently, there have been problems with the geolocation software; some users in Europe were reported to have been shut off from the live stream as well.

 

2. AJE's home page will now redirect users in the U.S. to the Al Jazeera America site. Surprisingly, their Arabic sites remain online in the U.S., as well as all AJE pages other than the main page. In addition to the live stream, videos on the AJE site are also blocked to American viewers.

 

Let's just say that although there is an obvious reason for this (cable deals and stuff,) understandably a lot of AJE viewers in the U.S. are very pissed right now.

 

I am pissed off. The firewall between AJAM and AJE is far, far more extreme than the one between CNN Domestic and CNN International. I can't get an official stream of CNNI in the U.S., but I can still easily access their homepage and watch most of their programs and content on demand. I really don't understand why AJAM has to pander to the cable companies so much.

 

Also, while I'm still anticipating AJAM's launch on Tuesday, I'm really disappointed that they're making this channel 100% American. Almost all the staff are formerly of CNN, ABC, or NBC, and they scrapped the original concept of a hybrid AJE channel with American and international content (which is what I would have preferred) to being nothing but American news. The end result is that the channel will be entirely US-based and US-focused in its scope, and very little AJE content will seep through, and I'm not convinced it'll be any more radical than the sycophantic CNN Domestic and MSNBC are. If you're going to strip Al Jazeera of its international perspective that made it so popular in the first place, why even bother?

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I am pissed off. The firewall between AJAM and AJE is far, far more extreme than the one between CNN Domestic and CNN International. I can't get an official stream of CNNI in the U.S., but I can still easily access their homepage and watch most of their programs and content on demand. I really don't understand why AJAM has to pander to the cable companies so much.

 

Also, while I'm still anticipating AJAM's launch on Tuesday, I'm really disappointed that they're making this channel 100% American. Almost all the staff are formerly of CNN, ABC, or NBC, and they scrapped the original concept of a hybrid AJE channel with American and international content (which is what I would have preferred) to being nothing but American news. The end result is that the channel will be entirely US-based and US-focused in its scope, and very little AJE content will seep through, and I'm not convinced it'll be any more radical than the sycophantic CNN Domestic and MSNBC are. If you're going to strip Al Jazeera of its international perspective that made it so popular in the first place, why even bother?

 

(Bolded: The weird thing is that AJE's feed is still available via Livestation right now. I'd be surprised if it's still there by Tuesday. The Livestation feed is officially dead. Plus, there are other add-ons on Chrome & Firefox that I use to get the AJE live stream on YouTube, so not all hope is lost.)

 

That being said, it is very disappointing that AJ would stoop to this level. Do they get U.S. distribution, a goal that has eluded them for seven years due to perception and stereotyping? Yes. However, is it right to yank the live stream and piss off a VERY devoted U.S. following just to please the cable companies? Common sense says no, but unfortunately, seeing as Current TV had super low viewership and AJ was fearful that all of the other cable/satellite companies would follow Time Warner Cable's lead, the answer is yes, which is unacceptable. This is Al Jazeera, the one media company that has been the very definition of "won't bow to anyone". In 1996, AJA launched at a time when you only had state-owned media in the Middle East or (if you were lucky) satellite. Within a few years, AJA became the most viewed and respected Middle Eastern channel with its opposing views and reporting that fell contrary to the ideals of many MENA* states. After 9/11, there was an unsurprising push by the U.S. government to eradicate or cripple Al Jazeera due to that very definition (Iraq? Osama bin Laden?)

 

Enter 2006, the year AJE entered the world. Despite some recent concerns over editorial policy and bias, especially at AJA (Qatari government as the owner = nothing bad about Qatar,) and the resignation of over a dozen staff at AJE, AJE has still received critical acclaim from around the world (including some within the current and former U.S. governments) for its in-depth journalism and reporting, even managing to outdo the BBC sometimes. Here in the U.S., where AJE carriage is incredibly sporadic due to perception issues post-9/11, hundreds of thousands (at least...?) of people watch AJE via the online streams, they respect Al Jazeera not only because it runs counter to the very "values" that drive our cable "news" channels, but because it's...different. Many people have come to love Al Jazeera in this country, despite lingering issues (i.e. the silent "majority" that hates Al Jazeera because of, well, the misconception that AJ supports terrorism just for airing some bin Laden tapes...in addition to the fear that anything Muslim, regardless of content = Muslim invasion & sharia law).

 

That's why AJ taking off the live stream to please the cable companies is wrong, even if it's a "necessary evil". AJ is intentionally pissing off thousands of viewers just to gain distribution in the U.S. If AJAM is a flop, not only will Al Jazeera have failed in its mission to become a mainstream U.S. news channel minus the sensationalist, partisan baggage, but they will also have alienated the devoted AJE viewers in the U.S. Recipe for disaster, if you ask me.

 

Finally, there will be international news on AJAM. Will it be AJE? Unfortunately not. Does this mean embracing the current cable "news" model of little to no international news whatsoever? I highly doubt it. I will be watching AJAM on Tuesday; if it lives up to the hype, I'll be watching regularly; if not, I'll just return to AJE via my add-on/Livestation methods. Their schedule seems quite promising, I'll give them that.

 

* Middle East & North Africa

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There's been no official indication that they will at launch. In the future, maybe...

 

 

 

Don't forget about CNN (Domestic, not International). All three are big jokes.

 

There's one thing they have going for them though: they don't have a big perception issue aside from partisan politics. Despite its worldwide notoriety for its in-depth journalism, in the U.S., Al Jazeera America will have major obstacles to overcome (Ignorant American viewer: "If you watch AJAM, you support TERRORISM!!!!1!!" :rolleyes: )

I actually can tolerate CNN. It just that I can't stand FOX News and MSNBC. And I'm curious if DirecTV is going to carry AJAM to a different package.

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