Al Jazeera English on Burlington Telecom
The proposed pulling of Al Jazeera English Network from the Burlington Telecom lineup has created fanfare in recent weeks in the Burlington, Vermont Community.
It is revolutionary that we have a local municipal outlet for cable in our small city. At this hour in telecommunication history it is more important than ever to have diversity in our cable providers and in the content we view, listen to and read.
Such diversity exists with Burlington Telecom (BT) and indeed this diversity is exactly why it stands to do so well in our community. BT is one of two cable providers in the United States that airs Al Jazeera English Network (AJE). At a time when our news is delivered to us through corporate filters providing us with less and less information we are obligated to seek alternative sources for news. While AJE surely pushes its own agenda, it indeed gives us world news that is entirely unavailable on other platforms. A media without diversity does not strengthen our democracy or our community.
Burlington residents support BT because we support local businesses, we can see programming that it absolutely not available on satellite or corporate cable outlets, we can request programming and, by investing in this municipality, we get to invest in our own community.
The municipality is accountable to its committees, made up of community members. The decision to pull the network was made by one man without consulting the Cable Advisory Committee or the Telecommunications Advisory Committee. There is a glitch in their system if they have these committees intact and still one person was able to make this decision unilaterally.
Per Mayor Kiss’ request, both committees met May 27th to hear one minute testimonials from citizens. They will hold a public forum Wed. June 10th to hear all public comments.
BT television carriage policy clearly states: “All decisions of channel carriage are ultimately conditioned by cost, demand, and value”.
Al Jazeera English (AJE) network does not cost Burlington Telecom money, thus it does not cost subscribers money. When AJE first approached BT with the prospect of airing their station, BT looked at the vitals to determine feasibility – does it cost money, are channels available so it does not take the place of other programming, and they considered the content of the station. They found that it is free and that the content of the station is entirely within the framework of what is deemed appropriate programming. And since there are more than a 1,000 channels available on BT, it is not taking the place of say MTV, The History Channel or a local access station.
The venue existing here for alternative media is gorgeous and rare. Now more than ever we need to let Burlington Telecom know how invested we are in local businesses and diversity in our media. We need to let them know that pulling AJE from their lineup perpetuates the bias and lack of diversity rampant in corporate media. We can have something better in Burlington.
You can send an email to www.burlingtontelecom.net. Click on Contact BT. Or, send in a letter in care of Burlington Telecom to 200 Church Street, Burlington, VT 05401 to
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