Analysis: Al-Jazeera in talks with Comcast over distribution

Posted by David Gomez

Al-Jazeera has been negotiating with Comcast over bringing the network’s English language channel to millions of U.S. viewers. Clearly, the nation’s largest cable provider is making moves involving Middle East broadcasting, but why?

According to Wired, Al-Jazeera is hoping to capitalize on its growing reputation as a serious provider of top-quality journalism from an increasingly tumultuous Middle East.
    
“We’re very grateful for all the support and appreciation we’ve been receiving,” Al-Jazeera English managing director Al Anstey said in a statement. "[Obviously], the demand is there for Al-Jazeera, and people want to see us on their screens."
    
Anstey has been to New York to talk with Comcast, and Comcast has not made a comment yet. It should be noted that U.S. cable networks have been reluctant to carry the Qatar-based news network in the past.
    
Al-Jazeera used to be perceived as a vicious Middle East propaganda machine by Neocons like Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

He didn’t like how Al-Jazeera reported on civilian casualties in the Iraq war. Probably because their figures were more accurate than the ones U.S. media were using, and any information that damages support for war is considered by war hawks to be "bad information."
    
But now that Al-Jazeera is getting attention for providing quality journalism during a time of revolution and crisis, they are considered worthy of doing business with.

Good journalism, which is considered by many to be useable information, has an effect on viewership. People will tune in if they believe the people behind the news delivery are honest. They will also tune in if they think that an organization is trust worthy.
    
Now that Al-Jazeera has been steadily getting attention by providing a different perspective on news in the Middle East, American media giant Comcast wants to get in on the action.
    
Don’t think for a second that Comcast is getting involved because they want their customers to see a different side of the news from the Middle East and Africa.
    
Due to the size and the enormous amount of power that Comcast now possesses (thanks to the government granted NBC merger), every claim that they make should be taken with much skepticism.

After all they are now a company that owns a ton of copyrighted entertainment media, and large amount of the telecommunications channels that bring it to people’s homes.
    
That is a lot of power centralized in one corporate titan and it wasn’t a result of free market economics. This consolidation of media power wouldn’t have been possible without the government getting involved and granting Comcast the benefits that come with being a member of the crony capitalist elite.
    
Comcast is entertaining the idea of bringing Al-Jazeera to the U.S. to absorb the temporary ratings spike that Al-Jazeera will bring to cable networks. That probably isn’t their only motivation though.
    
Comcast/NBC Universal is obviously the government’s favorite big media corporation because they gave them their permission to merge. The Crony Capitalist system thrives on unfair (illegal) advantages and favors. Comcast’s potential financial involvement with Al-Jazeera might be a favor for the government if you really think about it.
    
Al-Jazeera covers the wars and turmoil in the Middle East differently than U.S. networks. Some would say Al-Jazeera is more honest in their accounts of violence and events.
    
The truth about the wars in the Middle East from a group of journalists that live it every day will hurt support for the endless war on terror. If Comcast goes into business and gains some type of financial power over Al-Jazeera on U.S. cable networks, you’d have a situation where Comcast could dictate what goes on the air, and what gets covered.
    
The Comcast/Al-Jazeera situation could just be another example of crony capitalists attempting to control the information that people receive.