Canadian tele-tolerance: Fox News and Al Jazeera now coexist on the cable box

Canadian tele-tolerance: Fox News and Al Jazeera now coexist on the cable box

For those who care, it’s been a long wait. But it’s now over: Al Jazeera English is finally broadcasting in Canada. Many months after getting permission from the CRTC, the Qatar-based cable news channel started lighting up the screens of Rogers and Bell subscribers this week, and the Star reports that AJE will be opening a bureau in Toronto next month.

The paper goes on:

The window Al Jazeera’s 4 p.m. news report opened was unlike anything North American viewers have seen before. The first impression was of immediacy and global inclusiveness, with headlines encompassing the arrest of the Times Square bombing suspect, the spread of the oil spill off the Gulf of Mexico coastline, a teaser for an upcoming one-one-one interview with Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and renewed concerns over airport closures in Ireland and Scotland caused by the erupting volcano in Iceland.

“Unlike anything North American viewers have seen before?” It actually sounds a lot like BBC World, but maybe you had to be there.

AJE’s presence on Canadian TV contrasts starkly with the American situation, where AJE barely exists and is entirely unavailable on the country’s largest cable provider, Comcast. The reason may have to do with Al Jazeera’s reputation for covering events from a slightly less Yankee-friendly angle, or as the Financial Post put it in its hallmark bland fashion, “Al Jazeera has faced intense criticism in the past for its editorial choices and coverage of events in [the Middle East].”

Intense criticism is the least of it—Al Jazeera offices were hit by U.S. bombs and missiles in both Iraq and Afghanistan. In Canada, of course, we take a more laid-back position. Hell, Fox News called our soldiers a bunch of sissies, and it’s still on the air.

• Al Jazeera English on the air in Canada [Toronto Star]
• Al Jazeera is on the air in Canada [Financial Post]
• Al Jazeera English to launch in Canada [CTV]