Breaking news: Al Jazeera kills its live stream

If you have an Al Jazeera app on your U.S. mobile device you can no longer watch or listen to live streams. Click on the yellow LIVE button and then on “PLAY” next to “Watch Live” or “Listen Live” and here is what happens:

Go to the Al Jazeera website, click on “watch now” and you get to a page that says this:

The Al Jazeera English live stream is no longer available in the U.S.

Starting tomorrow, August 20th, you’ll be able to watch more of the in-depth reporting and great content you love on the new Al Jazeera America television channel.

Click here to see if your local television provider will be carrying Al Jazeera America. If not, let your voice be heard and please request it today.

Here’s how you can keep in touch with us and get all the latest updates about Al Jazeera America’s launch:

  • Visit the website
  • Subscribe to our email list
  • Follow @AJAM on Twitter
  • “Like” our page on Facebook

For the latest news and in-depth coverage from Al Jazeera English:

  • Read our live blogs
  • Download our mobile apps
  • Follow @AJELive on Twitter
  • Follow @AJEnglish on Twitter

Nice choices, but no substitute for live streams.

And no explanation of why. I assume it’s “due to copyright and distribution restrictions,” which are mentioned here. But a value-subtract of this magnitude deserves a full explanation. As a news organization Al Jazeera should report on exactly why it killed its streams.

Personally, I assume that the big cable companies insist that the streams be killed as a precondition for carrying the new Al Jazeera America cable channel. But, as I said back on 9 August, I don’t know.

Want to see a good model of a news organization covering news about itself? Look at what NPR is doing with news that its CEO is leaving. They (notably @davidfolkenflik) expose the whole thing, cover it as a news event, and open it up for discussion in comments.

Credit where due: Al Jazeera America’s Facebook page has comments and replies. People like me (a veteran watcher of Al Jazeera English on mobile devices who rarely watches cable) are not happy. Examples:

Ruth Arhelger No, I won’t be watching any AJ programs anymore no matter how much I wish I could because I have no way to access it. I refuse to pay more for television than I do for electricity and killing live stream is the worst idea anyone at your network has ever had. I hope at some point in the future you decide not to alienate people who can’t afford cable tv.

John Waddington where is the live stream ? what idiot turned off the live stream ?

Adey Imru Makonnen Shame that AJ English will disappear – goodbye objectivity

Jimbaux’s Journal No, because I don’t have cable and am unwilling to pay for it, partly because I just don’t like spending much time in front of the television, but I have your live feed that you posted in another comment bookmarked and will see posts that you make here on this page. Thanks for giving us options.

Al Jazeera America Jimbaux’s Journal - We encourage you to continue following us and stay tuned for updates:http://america.aljazeera.com/

Thomas Chupein No, I won’t and I am really sad. I don’t have a TV and I refuse to waste money on cable when there is almost nothing that I would watch. It was so hard to lose all the live streaming these past two days – I don’t blame AJAM but I am really sad – I can’t stomach even five minutes of U.S. news programs, and I was really looking forward to this.<

Al Jazeera America Thomas Chupein- We understand your concerns but we encourage you to join us online for Al Jazeera America news coverage to access articles and video content:www.aljazeera.com/america. Also, please continue to follow us for updates!

There are also lots of positive replies from people who like their cable news on TV and won’t miss the AJE live feed on computing devices. Those are the people Al Jazeera is after, obviously. Not cord-cutters like me and a few million others.

But it’s a retro move. And, I suspect, a costly one.

[Later...] Riyaad Minty ‏@Riy tweets,

and to those, our most loyal #AlJazeera viewers in the US, who have lost the live streams. We hear you. We’re working on it.

Thanks, Riyaad. Please make the new streams live and not just a collection of clips and pre-recorded programs. The latter is what the competition does, and you should do better than that.

Here’s more from Janko Roettgers on Gigaom.

31 comments

  1. gregorylent’s avatar

    usa government machinations

  2. Lee’s avatar

    It’s still possible to watch AJ English on various weblinks that also carry MSNBC, CNN, Fox, and many other channels. (I’m watching right now.) Easy enough. Just Google “Al-jazeera English live streaming.” I’d be happy if AJ America were carried on Time-Warner Cable, which I have. But if it’s not there, what am I to do? I’ve gotten to where I enjoy watching news channels on my computer as much or more than on TV.

  3. Bob’s avatar

    Web links are fine if you’ve been watching in a browser but they killed streaming in their Android app too. Really big mistake to cut off people in the US that have been loyal watchers.

    For me the existing US coverage they had was fine.

  4. Lee Mortimer’s avatar

    Doc — That’s one of several good sources. I hesitated to be too specific in identifying any for fear they might be shut down. Hopefully, AJ only needs to shut down its own web stream to satisfy the cable providers’ demands.

    I stumbled on your blog for the first time today and thought your name was familiar. Then I saw that you have a North Carolina connection and that you were doing journalism and broadcasting there at the same time I did some. I also worked at Northern Telecom (Nortel) and think it was during that time (1988-2001) that we may have had some contact.

    You’ve got an impressive weblog.

  5. Bob’s avatar

    As I told a New York Times reporter reporter during an interview…AJ had the best news coverage out there these days. Much better than anything done by US based groups. This move makes me question if they really know what they are doing. They’ve lost me until the turn the streaming back on.

  6. Heather’s avatar

    The disappearance of live streaming online has basically forced me to look for alternative news channels. I don’t have cable and see no point in getting it since whatever I watch I watch online on my computer or iPad. What a waste I have looked to AJ English for all my news and initially was excited for AJAM but that message “Aljazeera English is not available in your region” just killed me. I’ve tried multiple browsers, supposedly “anonymous” browsers, and mobile apps. I pteviously occasionally used LiveStation to stream AJEnglish, but that too is now not working – no error but I assume this is related.

    That’s a million for the link to an alternative site for streaming AJ English, though it looks like I may be turning to RT for live news from here on out. Not the direction I want to go in, but AJ has left us little choice in the matter.

  7. Doc Searls’s avatar

    Hi, Lee. Thanks for the kind words.

    We may have had contact when Bob Michael brought me in for a day of consulting at Nortel in that time frame. I was also in NC for most of the time between 1965 and 1985, when I moved to Silicon Valley.

  8. Doc Searls’s avatar

    The main choice on mobile and Web, for live global news streaming, is now France 24. Not bad, but not quite the equal of AJE, methinks. Give it a try and see what you think.

  9. Ozaer N.’s avatar

    Looks like RT just got another full time viewer….thanks to the careless decisions out of Doha re: AJE streaming. Wadah Khanfar…we miss you dearly!

  10. Lee’s avatar

    Doc, I was in Bob Michael’s department, so that must have been when we met. One of our co-workers, and later our manager, was Kathleen (Atwater) Peterson (Google Michael Peterson + murder).

  11. Doc Searls’s avatar

    Lee, small world. I had heard about the Kathleen Peterson murder, but didn’t know as much as I do now from Wikipedia. Wow.

  12. Pam’s avatar

    Killing the stream is awful. Additionally AJE is great – I strongly suspect AJ America will not be of the same quality (just look at BBC America) I want my AJE on my tablet. Sadness. . . . . . .

  13. Doc Searls’s avatar

    A couple of additional notes…

    1) RT’s live stream app works, as does France 24s. I don’t know any other global news organizations with live streams in English available in the U.S. (ABC and others have apps, but they require authentication through cable accounts).

    2) Al Jazeera America is available on Dish Network, its site says. And on our Dish system here in Santa Barbara I can see it listed (still as Current, the network Al Jazeera bought from Al Gore), but it’s only available with a higher-tier collection of channels. Since we’re already paying $80/month (for “America’s Top 120″, plus Showtime and HBO), we’ll pass. (I also can’t tell if @ajam is in the Top 200, Top 250 or Everything tiers. Dish doesn’t make that clear. In any case, it’s not in “basic” or low-cost tiers, like CNN and Fox tend to be. That’s a problem for them, but beside the points made in this post and comment thread.)

  14. Kamran’s avatar

    Can we please get AJE live stream baccck? Please!!!

  15. Christina’s avatar

    I am FURIOUS about this. I feel betrayed by AJE….and i will never watch them on TV. They took a big step backwards and lost my respect and support.

  16. Ron Jamin’s avatar

    I used to watch Al Jazeera programming, but they’ve blocked the USA on computers and iPhones / iPads.   I’ve already deleted the Al Jazeera app from my phone because it is now USELESS.

    Remember, the viewers from ONLINE made Al Jazeera in the USA.  Now they are telling us to go away.   

    Don’t waste your time with Al Jazeera now. It’s been neutered. Maybe this has something to do with Al Gore’s involvement, huh?

  17. Tim’s avatar

    I’m extremely disappointed with this blackout.
    Cable, Dish, and the others offer only overpriced pig shit.
    To access AJ now requires buying a ton of crap. Not in my house!
    This represents a victory for the liars and mind fuckers.

  18. Doc Searls’s avatar

    Okay team, here’s a question: Would you pay for Al Jazeera English if it were available á la carte by subscription over the Net? Right now all the complainers, including me, are consumers of Al Jazeera, not customers. But what if we were paying customers instead? I think that might be one answer here, especially since the cable and satellite companies are either shunning @ajam or ghetto-ing it with other packing material in the high-channel-count tiers.

  19. Tim’s avatar

    I would subscribe and pay a reasonable fee for the excellent programing.
    Being a mindful and willing customer is preferable to the status of consumerism.
    I would like to see this happen soon, and hope that contracting with US media providers has not tied the hands of AJ to prevent the above.
    Expect lots of trickery from those who feel threatened by the prospect of loosing some opinion forming power.

  20. Pam’s avatar

    I would pay for AJE but not for AJ America – if it was a reasonable fee

  21. Doc Searls’s avatar

    Tristan Louis wrote a good piece here in Forbes that I’m linking to so I can kill off two pingbacks from splogs (spam blogs) that snarfed up his text and ran it without attribution as their own. Here’s one that credits Tristan but not Forbes, making it look like he’s that site’s reporter. Here’s another that doesn’t credit either Tristan or Forbes, but just runs his post text as its own. It features ads by Aspen Systems, New Relic, Comcast and Google. The last is a banner across the top, with links to googleads.g.doubleclick.net, including that litte image for “Ad Choices,” linking to a page explaining what Google is doing with these ads. What’s actually happening is that spam blogs like this one make money by harvesting content from elsewhere for free, posting it as their own, pretending to be real news sites, and then getting enough inbound links to game enough Google PageRank for Google and others to start running ads on the sites. Their pingbacks on this comment thread would have helped with that if I hadn’t killed them, and labeled them as spam in the process. (The links I use above contain rel=”nofollow”, which is meant to defeat that cross-linking purpose. I dunno if that works, but I do want to expose this scamery for what it is.)

  22. Karen’s avatar

    Thank you for posting this, I join the protest to bring Aljazeera English back to the US (actually, I’m not at all thrilled by the ‘America’ version, what I liked most was its multicultural English and at times spending time just hearing other languages in the background).
    After over 10 years that I chose to not own a TV and to avoid advertisement as much as possible, I refuse to buy one, let alone zap through cable.
    I really miss it, any option for us, your former US viewers? I would also pay for AlJazeera English online, but not America.

  23. Karen’s avatar

    It almost feels as if this was a move to stop us from knowing what’s going on out there, the alternative to free online news is rather skimpy, without the amazing programs and documentaries which were so eye opening to other people’s realities.

  24. Bo’s avatar

    I am upset to find out that we were not able to watch AJ online anymore in the States and disappointed with the U.S. government to let it happened. You can watch the AJ from every part of the world except in America. I am ashamed to tell foreign friends about it. There is no difference between CNN and AJ America and no interest in watching them.

  25. Doc Searls’s avatar

    Bo, a small clarification. While cable and satellite TV in the U.S. are regulated services, that regulation does not require any of those services to carry certain channels (other than local ones within a given coverage area); nor does it forbid any channel carriage. The reason Al Jazeera is on cable and satellite alone in the U.S. is entirely Al Jazeera’s choice. Apparently killing the live stream was the price they paid in whatever deal it was they did with the cable and satellite companies. But we don’t know for sure because they haven’t talked publicly about it.

  26. tony’s avatar

    I really don’t think AJ realizes that it shot itself in the foot by cutting off live streaming.
    I predict after 3 months.. you watch ! AJ will wake up and say “We made a mistake!”

  27. M to the C’s avatar

    Is the CBC a viable alternative when compared to AJE?

  28. Doc Searls’s avatar

    Sure, but is the CBC available via stream over a mobile app? I dunno. I’m sure it’s on some cable systems, but I’m also sure it’s buried among the higher-priced tiers, just like Al Jazeera America. But I could be wrong. Corrections welcome.

  29. brooke’s avatar

    i would subscribe/pay for AJE if it was available. I do not have cable television.I watch tv through hulu and netflix (paid subscriptions). I haven’t had cable for years.

    This is totally disappointing!

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