Michael Kalan, Contributing Writer
As American citizens, we are encouraged to participate in and help guide changes to our culture. Oftentimes, we get busy and ignore changes happening around us. Sometimes, when we finally realize that we disagree with a change, we’ve missed the opportunity to voice our opinion. Right now, however, as members of the University of Dallas community, we are at a point at which we have the opportunity to make our voice heard and influence cultural change.
Recently, the university entered into negotiations with Time Warner Cable about increasing our network bandwidth. Interestingly, Time Warner has just begun offering the news channel “Al Jazeera America” in its lineup, while simultaneously refusing to offer “TheBlaze TV.” This decision is important to understand because the the two companies are very different and they offer two very different perspectives on the news. Time Warner’s refusal to offer both media outlets is restricting the exchange of different views and ideas.
“Al Jazeera America,” which debuted on August 20, is part of the larger Al Jazeera Media Network. Based out of Qatar, it was created in 1996 under Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, who usurped control of Qatar from his father. Hamad founded Al Jazeera after he disbanded the Qatar branch of BBC for preparing to run a documentary that would expose executions under Sharia law. Over the years Al Jazeera has aired many anti-American segments. Just one month after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, it aired exclusive audiotapes of bin Laden encouraging terrorism against America. Along with audio, it shared a picture slide show of destruction supposedly resulting from U.S. bombings; many of these pictures were erroneous. It bought Al Gore’s “Current TV” network and used its infrastructure to set up “Al Jazeera America.” The American network is currently available in 44 million American homes, and with the addition of the Time Warner Contract, it has access to 55 million American homes.
“TheBlaze TV” is a branch of TheBlaze News, which was launched in August 2010. TheBlaze’s founder and owner, Glenn Beck, created TheBlaze News as a place where Americans can find accurate and otherwise unreported articles on “the topics that matter most, ranging from politics and culture to faith and family.” The name “Blaze” represents people’s burning for truth and is also a symbol of the burning bush in the Old Testament, from which God spoke to Moses.
“TheBlaze TV” officially launched in 2012 as an internet-streaming news network. It began expanding to cable television at the beginning of 2013 and has been picked up by several cable providers, including Dish Network.
While the two companies drastically differ philosophically, their goals are the same: to spread news to the American people. I’m not advocating that Time Warner should drop “Al Jazeera America,” because it has the right to carry it. However, due to our size, the University of Dallas is a very significant customer and therefore has a more influential voice with Time Warner. We have the right to provide feedback to a company with whom we are doing business. One could argue that if we disagree with this one channel offered by Time Warner, we should drop Time Warner as our cable provider. However, that is neither practical nor my point. That would be similar to saying UD should stop accepting Visa and American Express because these corporations support Planned Parenthood. The point is we cannot change the world all at once, but by being proactive and enacting incremental changes, we can foster positive results. As an institution that values education, knowledge and independent thought, we should support the exchange of different views and sources of information. “TheBlaze TV” is one of these alternatives. It is important to have many different sources for news and information because our opinions are influenced by the information we receive. We need multiple perspectives to better understand and come to a thoughtful conclusion about current events.
Petitioning Time Warner in support of “TheBlaze” would not be a partisan move by UD. Taking action would not mean that we support TheBlaze as a company (similarly to how we do not necessarily support the views of Visa, yet we still accept their card). What we would be doing is taking advantage of an opportunity to advocate for fundamental principles. By asking Time Warner to offer “TheBlaze TV” side by side with “Al Jazeera America,” we would be promoting the free exchange of information that leads to better understanding and education. We want both sources available to the American people so that we can make informed and knowledgeable decisions on issues.
As a community, we have a unique opportunity to be proactive. We have to decide whether we are going to remain quiet and travel down the path of life as inconspicuous observers or whether we will take an active role and help guide the direction of our country.