Archive for August 5th, 2007

“The approach was emblematic of al-Jazeera English’s general attempt to change the climate of television journalism” –Mark Lawson


Ever since it’s launch, Al Jazeera English has seen abundant applauses and controversies. There is little doubt that it differs in it’s attitude and point of view from the other major TV News media outlets- BBC and CNN. It has created the impression of a professional, different and bold news agency. Even among the liberals in the United States. They are afraid that Al Jazeera might change. Very few people doubt now that AJE has carved a niche for itself in importance just beside BBC and CNN.

The imperial powers did not like this rise. Al Jazeera was talking about subjects they did not want anybody to talk about. At first, there was a well conceived propaganda to discard Al Jazeera as a terrorist mouthpiece, followed by persecution-

“But the station has had to pay a high price for its independence and professionalism. Its offices in Kabul and Baghdad were bombed by the US; its Baghdad correspondent Tariq Ayyub was killed; its Kabul correspondent Taysir Alluni was arrested in Spain and charged with terrorism; and its cameraman Sami Alhajj was kidnapped in Kabul and continues to be held in Guantánamo Bay. Most notoriously of all, George Bush even suggested to Tony Blair that they bomb al-Jazeera’s Doha headquarters”. –George Galloway, in The Guardian Unlimited.

However, Al Jazeera has stood the test, most of the world has acknowledged Al Jazeera as a legitimate and independent news channel.

The ban happy Indian government (which has a long legacy of banning the Satanic Verses, The Final Solution, Shivaji… ) has effectively stopped the channel from broadcasting in India. This is curious; because even the United States did not ban it. India has refused Al Jazeera permission to downlink into India. Which basically menas cable operators can not carry this channel. How is that different from a ban?

So what does the government say to justify it? The cite “securiy reasons”. This is ludicrous. “It can make a skull smile.”

`What purpose does it serve?’ is the question I do not know an answer to.

It may be that the government does not want a dinosaur in it’s backyard. The Indian media, by and large, are a tamed flock. They sometimes bark, but rarely bite. They race happily behind the government when tensions rise with neighboring countries, creating an atmosphere just perfect for waging a war. They talk sweet when we are in good terms with the same neighbour, a month later. They, most of them, do not talk ill of other countries we have a ‘strategic interest’ in. Suddenly a news channel that is not afraid of taking on the global giant Exxon, may evantually become too much trouble to handle.

Whatever may the actual reason be, the Government does not want to admit it. It is upto us to demand that we be allowed to watch this channel that draws so much applause and awe. Al Jazeera can be a welcome break from the emperial attitudes of the western media.


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