Regulators Mull Al Jazeera’s Future In Vermont

Regulators will meet Tuesday in Burlington, Vt. to hear testimony from consumers there on the future local carriage of Al Jazeera, the English version of the Arabic news channel.

The channel has been carried by the municipally owned cable system, Burlington Telecom, since December of 2006. According to a report in the Burlington Free Press, the cable operation picked up coverage of the controversial network, which is offered free to carriers, but no contract was ever signed.

Al Jazeera, which participated in its first Cable Show last week, has not gained much traction among U.S. telecommunications providers. According to the network's website, the channel is offered by Globcast World TV; Buckeye Cable in Ohio; Washington Cable in Washington D.C. and the broadband portals Islamicity and Jump TV.

In Burlington, criticism has been growing louder recently about the existence of the channel on the local cable system. Two city councilors, Greg Eppler-Wood and Paul Decelles, appeared on local access television in a discussion with free speech supporters recently, with the regulators arguing the channel should be dropped.

Eppler-Wood is the chairman of two of the three local committees which oversee the operations of Burlington Telecom.

Those committees, the Cable Advisory Committee and the Burlington Telecom Advisory Committee, are staging the joint meeting Tuesday at 4 p.m.