Subscribers to various cable TV packages may have noticed a new channel recently, but a New York State assemblyman wants it removed — and is threatening to boycott the provider.
Al Jazeera America began broadcasting in the U.S. August 20. Assemblyman Kieran Lalor, a Fishkill Republican, says constituents began calling and emailing him, saying they were offended that Al Jazeera programming was part of a basic pre-paid package. He says he then stumbled across the channel while searching for a Yankees game at a family barbeque.
Lalor, a Marine Corps veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, says he has written to executives at Verizon, which is his provider, Comcast, DirecTV, and Dish Network, asking them to drop Al Jazeera America from their basic cable packages.He says he purposely chose the anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks as the deadline for cable companies to remove Al Jazeera from the package.
Ibrahim Hooper is a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Lalor says if Al Jazeera America is not removed from basic cable packages by September 11, he will lead a boycott of the providers.
In an e-mailed statement, a Comcast spokeswoman says, “Al Jazeera purchased Current TV earlier this year and recently began broadcasting Al Jazeera America. Comcast is abiding by its affiliate agreement with Current TV and carrying Al Jazeera America.”
Verizon, meanwhile, has responded to Lalor’s August 26th letter to the Verizon chairman with a letter of its own, saying that Verizon offers more than 575 channels on FiOS TV, including more than 100 news and information channels that viewers can choose to watch or not watch. The letter adds that the assemblyman’s correspondence has been forwarded to the FiOS TV content and planning teams.
Calls to Al Jazeera America; Dish Network; and DirecTV were not returned in time for this broadcast.