WTVG-- May 17, 2007 - Al Jazeera is one of the most popular networks in the globe, but you can only see it in a few American cities, including Toledo. Viewers from around the world can question newsmakers, and so can you, if you subscribe to Buckeye Cable's digital service. That's because the cable company has picked up the Arab product Al Jazeera English.
Washington, DC, bureau chief Will Stebbins says Al Jazeera English launched six months ago to capitalize on the success of its sometimes controversial sister network Al Jazeera Arabic. Stebbins says, "Al Jazeera is one brand name that is known around the world. The purpose behind Al Jazeera English was to bring Al Jazeera new audiences, to expand the audiences." Al Jazeera anchor Riz Khan says, "What we try to do as a channel that's different is try to cover more of the world, I wouldn't say neglected, but certainly overlooked by existing western-based channels because their resources may be elsewhere."
Toledo's unique because it's one of only two U.S. cities where Al Jazeera English is being broadcast. The other is Burlington, Vermont. Stebbins says he doesn't know why. Stebbins admits it's been a challenge to convince U.S. cable companies to broadcast Al Jazeera English. But, he says the Glass City is a good starting place.
The reaction is mixed in Toledo. A Google search of this topic shows some people are embracing the channel while others have threatened to cancel their Buckeye Cable subscription. But Khan and Stebbins are asking subscribers to give their channel a chance before doing that.
Buckeye Cablesystem began airing Al Jazeera English on March 19. The company's spokesman Tom Dawson tells 13abc they've had as many compliments as complaints about the network. It's included in the Buckeye Cablesystem digital basic package: Channel 220 in Toledo and channel 229 in Sandusky.