In an October 2005 Message column, Gabriel Elizondo, a former Channel 7 employee who was among the staffers who launched Al Jazeera English, was optimistic that the American public would modify its largely negative opinions about the service once people here got a chance to see it. However, the decision on the part of major cable companies not to add the channel has largely prevented the sort of sampling Elizondo envisioned. Al Jazeera English has tried a variety of methods to let Yanks know that the network exists, even cooperating with the folks at The Daily Show on a Samantha Bee-helmed piece that needled the stiffness and seriousness of primary anchors Dave Marash and Ghida Fakhry; the YouTube link to the segment can be found by clicking here.
But if acting like good sports and sending out de facto Christmas cards are good ideas, such entreaties have had little impact thus far. Broadcast distributors hold the key to Al Jazeera English's future in this country, and unless they change their tune, the network's unlikely to have a happy new year in the U.S. of A. -- Michael Roberts