Blog Post

Ahead of cable channel launch, Al Jazeera starts blocking videos on YouTube

When violence erupted in Cairo this week, Al Jazeera once again became the go-to source for on-the-ground news coverage. The network streamed live from Egypt’s capital, and uploaded dozens of videos to its YouTube channel. However, U.S. visitors to the site found themselves turned away, with an error message on YouTube (s GOOG) telling them that “the upload has not made this video available in your country.”

The blocking, which began on Thursday, is part of a concession that Al Jazeera made to get pay TV operators to carry its new Al Jazeera America network, which is scheduled to launch next Tuesday. With the launch, Al Jazeera will also start to block U.S. viewers from accessing its international live stream. Al Jazeera had previously said that it was going to disable access to the live stream, but many viewers will likely be surprised by this extending to news clips on YouTube as well – especially because these clips have been a big reason that people are intrigued with Al Jazeera’s take on TV news in the first place.

Al Jazeera tried for a number of years to get U.S. cable companies to carry its Al Jazeera English station. The big pay TV operators refused, in part because they didn’t want to be associated with what Bush administration officials essentially had branded an enemy network. That’s why Al Jazeera took to the internet instead, streaming its program live online around the clock and uploading both news clips and entire shows to its YouTube channel, which to date features more than 41,000 videos.

That strategy paid off when the Arab spring started to disrupt the Middle East in late 2010 and early 2011, with Al Jazeera correspondents reporting live from crucial hotspots in Cairo and elsewhere while U.S. networks like CNN failed to grasp the importance of the story.

Thanks to its live stream and coverage on YouTube, Al Jazeera quickly became a household name with anyone trying to figure out what was happening in the Middle East, and its online traffic skyrocketed.

It’s somewhat ironic that Al Jazeera is forced to shut off access to these outlets just as the world’s attention is once again focused in Cairo — especially since not every pay TV operator is going to carry Al Jazeera America when it launches in a few days.

I’ve asked an Al Jazeera America spokesperson about the network’s plans for its own coverage on YouTube, but have yet to hear back.

57 Responses to “Ahead of cable channel launch, Al Jazeera starts blocking videos on YouTube”

  1. Chris Hartman

    This ended up being worse that not having Al Jazeera America at all. Now the drones who couldn’t get off their ass to find information outside of the mainstream networks can watch Al Jazeera on their giant TVs while those that have been relying on them for years via the web get screwed. What a joke.

  2. loupiote

    “You can use a proxy server outside the US to get around the restrictions” – i tried, but no success so far.

    please post any proxy you found that works to stream aljazeera english live video.

    • Houyqueen

      Wow. I didn’t think of it like that but you’re right. The US has screwed them because the ignorant bigoted folk who are afraid of Al Jazeera won’t watch it anyway. It cannot pick up new viewers on some obscure network no one ever watches and then to boot they have alienated all of us in the US who counted on Al Jazeera English for its news content. I feel at a real loss now as I don’t know what can possibly replace the content I’ve become so attached to on AJ English.

  3. No Cable Guy

    I don’t own cable t.v. because I do not trust the information distributed by shows that rely on advertising money. This is truly a blow to the free spread of information and ideas.

  4. really dumb move guys. it might make short term dollars and cents but millions of us were just beginning to cement our affinity for real truth in journalism. now, cut off at the knees.

  5. RobPaulGru

    There are other sources for news video streams from the area which google will help you find. Al Jazeera is kind of the NY Times of the Middle East – completely useless propaganda.

  6. Dilip Andrade

    It looks like the content is only blocked in the US… You can use a proxy server outside the US to get around the restrictions, just like non-Americans use them to get access to US-only content like Hulu.

  7. Hector Reyes

    That really sucks! It’s disappointing Aljazeera crumbled to the demands of Big Pay TV Cable/Sat Cabal. Why cut internet access when most Americans now have opted to be off grid and severed any connection whatsoever with these bloodsucking pay TV networks? What Aljazeera should have done was offer their programs to local Off the Air Networks. Bad,bad,bad strategic move to America.

  8. Must be a way around the live viewing block. What else can we watch for live Middle East coverage??!!! We are a stuck with CNN chat shows now? This was always my nightmare.

    • Use any free anon proxy server? The only way a website knows where you’re located is by looking at your IP address.

      I just watched a previously blocked video “Granny Loan Shark”, one of their 25 min profiles by appearing as if I was in Venezuela, they’re free and just have to change a basic setting within IE.

        • You can go to a website that offers proxy service. A free example would be “http://anonymouse.org/” . Go there, and there will be an address bar on the page. Copy/paste the address you cant access into that space and hit enter. Its that easy. :) I just tested this proxy site on the aljazeera videos and it works fine.

          You can also pay a small monthly fee to many sites for better proxy service and perks, etc. so that you’ll never be blocked by anyone.

  9. This is a tragedy. I loved Al Jazeera for covering actual news of the world and now we are just cut off?!! So we can get non-live canned rubbish tailored to fit American viewing no doubt, like BBC channel news. I guess it’s time to look elsewhere for news yet again. What an infuriatingly stupid move.