Knight Blog

The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Link TV's Egypt content a big draw: Why not carry it on cable?

Feb. 4, 2011, 3:21 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

By Amy Starlight Lawrence, Journalism Program Associate Knight Foundation's VP/Journalism Eric Newton was quoted today in the San Francisco Chronicle wondering why Link TV is not on cable. It's a question others have been asking as Link has become a premier place for seeing television feeds from Egypt, both because it is carrying Al Jazeera English and because of its 10-year-old Peabody-award winning news program launched with Knight funding, Mosaic.

Al Jazeera English'also isn't on cable, in part because of claims it'slants news against the United States. Yet a fact-based study by Knight Crane professor at Queens University in Charlotte, Mohammed el-Nawawy, says that people who watch it have broader attitudes about the United States and the world than those who don't. The news format offers more time for analysis, sometimes with only two or three segments per hour, and includes a range of interviewees which help to illustrate the complexities of the issues covered.

Link TV went from an audience of zero'in 1999 when it was born as a satellite public access channel to an audience in the millions. Its "breakthrough program,"'Mosaic, launched in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, providing the nation with a way to find out what Arabic nightly news was saying about America. Similar programs brought news feeds into Link TV from Latin America and the world. Though the station has had'multiple discussions with the major cable carriers, even offering Link TV as a "free channel," the systems have essentially continued to say over the years, "check back later." As traditional public television'has struggled to keep its audience, Link TV is a public media success story.

Under grants from Gates Foundation and'Knight, Link is working on ViewChange.org, a semantic web player that offers up different kinds of links to viewers depending on what video they are consuming.