Monday, January 31, 2011

Et Tu Brutus?

This is funny. Here's a Huffington Post article puzzled by the fact that the US government is calling for free access to the Internet and to media channels such as Al Jazeera for the Egyptians, but Americans are not free to get Al Jazeera...
Al Jazeera English Blacked Out Across Most Of U.S.

Canadian television viewers looking for the most thorough and in-depth coverage of the uprising in Egypt have the option of tuning into Al Jazeera English, whose on-the-ground coverage of the turmoil is unmatched by any other outlet. American viewers, meanwhile, have little choice but to wait until one of the U.S. cable-company-approved networks broadcasts footage from AJE, which the company makes publicly available. What they can't do is watch the network directly.

Other than in a handful of pockets across the U.S. - including Ohio, Vermont and Washington, D.C. - cable carriers do not give viewers the choice of watching Al Jazeera. That corporate censorship comes as American diplomats harshly criticize the Egyptian government for blocking Internet communication inside the country and as Egypt attempts to block Al Jazeera from broadcasting.

The result of the Al Jazeera English blackout in the United States has been a surge in traffic to the media outlet's website, where footage can be seen streaming live. The last 24 hours have seen a two-and-a-half thousand percent increase in web traffic, Tony Burman, head of North American strategies for Al Jazeera English, told HuffPost. Sixty percent of that traffic, he said, has come from the United States.


Cable companies are also worried, said Burman, that they will lose more subscribers than they will gain by granting access to Al Jazeera. The Canadian experience, he said, should put those fears to rest. In Canada, national regulators can require cable companies to provide certain channels and Al Jazeera ran a successful campaign to encourage Canadians to push the government to intervene. There has been extremely little negative reaction over the past year as Canadians have been able to view the channel and decide for themselves. "We had a completely different process and result here in Canada -- a grassroots campaign that was overwhelmingly successful," said Avi Lewis, the former host of Al Jazeera's Frontline USA. (He now freelances for Al Jazeera while working on a documentary project with his wife, Naomi Klein.)
I think it is hysterically funny for the US government to call for democracy and free access to ideas when the same doesn't exist (or exists in a watered down form) in the US.

It makes you think, doesn't it?

On second thought... I'm pretty sure most Americans are sufficiently propagandized by their own government to be convinced they are the freest of the free and it is some "commie plot" to imply that they don't have access to all relevant info. If all the Truth is in the Bible, why would you need Al Jazeera, right?

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