David A. Jensen, Vice President for Content Acquisition at Comcast, has reaffirmed that the cable giant is not negotiating to carry the late Osama bin Laden’s favorite TV channel Al-Jazeera.
Comcast, one of the world’s leading communications companies, has an annual meeting scheduled on May 11, 2011, at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia.
In an email message responding to a request for a meeting on the subject, Jensen said that while “Comcast’s goal is to deliver as diverse and comprehensive a line-up as we possibly can, and we continually seek to improve the number and mix of the channels we distribute,” the fact is that “We do not have an agreement with this service that would permit us to carry Al Jazeera English on our cable systems and Comcast is not currently in active talks to complete such an agreement.”
Referring to AIM, Jensen added, “We have heard from many of your organization’s members about this subject, and have communicated this same response to them.” Indeed, one of our members had confirmed this fact.
But despite the report from Comcast VP Jensen, the cable giant is already providing access to Al- Jazeera English in the Washington, D.C. area; Toledo, Ohio; and Burlington, Vermont, where viewers see the network through MHz networks, a taxpayer-supported entity.
As AIM has noted, MHz Networks is a division of Commonwealth Public Broadcasting and receives over $2 million a year from federal and state governments. The state funding was put in jeopardy when Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell recently cut $424,001 out of the state budget for public broadcasting. “In today’s free market, with hundreds of radio and television programs, government should not be subsidizing one particular group of stations,” McDonnell said. “We must get serious about government spending.”
However, Al-Jazeera’s push for carriage by Comcast is only one area of concern for shareholders.
Some Comcast shareholders are concerned about the lack of ratings generated by the MSNBC television network, now under the control of the cable company since the transfer earlier this year. MSNBC has developed a reputation as a far-left channel that relentlessly attacks conservatives and Republicans with wild charges.
Another problem is that Comcast subsidiary NBC Universal owns a cable channel called G4 that used the occasion of an unofficial national marijuana holiday, April 20, designated as such by pot heads, to celebrate the use of the drug.
As we noted at the time, “A G4 promotion ad for the programming shows marijuana cigarettes, marijuana leaves, young people smoking dope, and the dope itself, while the Andy Williams song, ‘The most wonderful time of the year,’ is played.”
“G4 ‘Lights Up’ Airwaves with Stoner Programming” is how one pot head put it.
Kelly Susco, a publicist for G4, claimed that the illegal use of marijuana would not be “condoned” in any of the channel’s programs.
But one program, according to G4, was titled, “Super High Me,” and was said to feature comedian Doug Benson as he “smokes marijuana every day for 30 days and hilarity ensues as viewers witness the impact this has on his everyday life.”
Anti-drug activists said Comcast was acting irresponsibly and that the company should embrace sober and drug-free lifestyle choices for young people.