Al Jazeera America is spearheading a letter-writing campaign to get people to request the new network be added to their channel lineup.
Al Jazeera America begins broadcasting Tuesday but will only be available in about 50 million homes. A link on the network’s website allows users to search whether the channel is available in their neighborhood, and provides a form letter for potential customers to request it from their TV providers.
“I am writing to request that you add Al Jazeera America as part of your channel lineup. I want to watch Al Jazeera America for its objective, balanced, in-depth news reporting on stories that matter,” the letter states. “Please let me know when I can expect to see Al Jazeera America as a channel option.”
Al Jazeera America will provide domestic and overseas news coverage with bureaus in a dozen cities including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Miami and Detroit. The Qatar-based Al Jazeera network announced the purchase of Al Gore’s Current TV earlier this year, and has hired former CNN journalists Ali Velshi and Soledad O’Brien among its correspondents.
The New York Post reported Sunday that the network, at least for now, is lacking in a significant advertiser base; it will launch with just six minutes of commercials per hour, less than half of what cable news channels typically air.
Al Jazeera America can certainly use all the help it can get from customer requests; interim CEO Ehab Al Shihabi acknowledged last week that 75 percent of Americans have not seen any Al Jazeera coverage yet still have a negative view of the network. At the same time, he said 90 percent of Americans who watch the channel feel positive about its coverage.
Al Jazeera’s effort mirrors a similar campaign by TheBlaze TV, which has encouraged radio and Internet subscribers to call their TV operators and request the network.