Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Let al-Jazeera into Canada

Looking back just a couple of years, it's hard to see why there was so much fuss about allowing Fox News to broadcast in Canada. For what it's worth, it's the conservative version of Comedy Central. But it's hard to see how it could have been seen as having a potentially damaging effect on Canadian values. We don't seem to be bothered by some other quintessentially American outlets such as A&E, TLC or the Food Network.

So why does there seem to be so much opposition to allowing al-Jazeera's new English language service to be shown in Canada? Personally, I get most of my international news from the BBC World Service; but it would be interesting to see events from the perspective of the Middle East. As it is Doha, Qatar based al-Jazeera, notwithstanding its controversial nature, has been a voice of freedom for Arabs who are sick and tired of the corruption and nepotism of their slavemasters. (AJ was actually formed from the ruins of a failed Arab-language service run by the BBC, which the latter is now trying to revive.)

The CRTC should just back off, and let the marketplace decide whether there is demand for AJ. Both the Arab and English language versions. For balance, I'd also allow the news channel run by the Israelis -- if that would make people happy.

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