Al-Jazeera English Rep Meets With Cable Execs in Push for More U.S. Carriage

7:44 PM PST 02/23/2011 by Marisa Guthrie

Executives at the Qatar-based news network are hoping to leverage the exposure the channel has received for its coverage of protests in the Arab world.

NEW YORK -- Al-Jazeera English managing director Al Anstey met with executives at Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Cablevision on Tuesday.

Comcast and Time Warner are the top two U.S. cable providers with 23 million and 12 million subscribers, respectively, while Cablevision serves a little over a 3 million subscribers in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

"We're very grateful for all the support and appreciation we've been receiving," Anstey said in a statement. "Clearly, the demand is there for Al-Jazeera, and people want to see us on their screens."

AJE is available in 220 million households in more than 100 countries, including Canada.

And while the network has a bureau in Washington, D.C., it is only available on small independent cable systems in Burlington, Vermont; Toledo, Ohio; and on Washington Cable in the Capital.

Meanwhile, several of Canada's main cable and satellite providers -- which offer AJE for an extra charge over basic packages -- are offering customers a free trial of AJE.

U.S. cable systems have been reluctant to carry the channel likely due to a perceived anti-American and anti-Israel tone in its coverage. In 2008, AJE endured a challenge to its carriage agreement with Vermont-based Burlington Telecom.

AJE executives have long asserted that perceived biases are uninformed.

Since the protests in the Middle East erupted last month, network's website has seen its web traffic spike by 2,500 percentwith up to 60 percent of the traffic coming from the U.S.

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