Grassroots activists are going to deliver a popular online petition asking Comcast Cable to carry Al-Jazeera English nationally to Comcast headquarters in Philadelphia on Monday.
The petition, launched by Rethink Press on change.org, has already attracted more than 23,000 signatures.
“Al Jazeera English (AJE) is an internationally acclaimed news network that broadcasts to over 250 million households in 120 countries on 6 continents, yet it is available in only 5 places in the entire U.S. (Washington, DC; Burlington, VT; Bristol County, RI: Toledo, OH; and New York City, NY),” the petition reads. “This needs to change. As one of the largest cable providers in the U.S., it is time for Comcast Cable to get with the program and provide its customers with full cable access to Al Jazeera English.”
According to its website, Rethink Press is “a grassroots group that is working to raise awareness about the state of the journalism and media in the United States.”
Xi Wang, a co-founder of the organization, said she thought Comcast declined to carry Al-Jazeera English nationally because it has not shaken the negative stigma customers associate with it in the post-September 11 world.
"Most people, because of the name and where the headquarters of the network is — it's based in Doha, Qatar, have certain associations, negative assocations," Wang said.
Also read: Al-Jazeera: How We Got the Gaddafi Scoop
A Comcast spokeswoman issued the following statement with regard to the petition:
"While we are not currently in discussions, we have met with representatives of Al Jazeera in the past. We regularly examine our channel lineups and talk with a wide range of programmers to ensure that we are bringing the content that our customers want the most."
Al-Jazeera English, founded in 2006, had its biggest year to date in 2011 thanks to its comprehensive coverage of the Arab Spring.
It expanded its reach worldwide, expanding into India, Peru, Chile and Mexico while hitting a global audience of 250 million people.
The network also won a duPont award, the broadcast equivalent of a Pulitzer, for its coverage of the Haiti earthquake and the aftermath.
In the United States, it attained full carriage in New York and part-time carriage in markets like Chicago and Miami, but it is still unavailable in most of the country.
Wang said they chose Monday because of its proximity to the day Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak left power.
"That was a catalyzing event that brought Al-Jazeera English into the consciousness of a lot of Americans, especially after Hilary Clinton made a statement about the quality of coverage AJE provides in contrast to some domestic networks."
Its broadcast hub for the Americas is Washington, D.C.