Picture: Founder of CNN Ted Turner at the 'Cold War: The Complete Series' screening at The Paley Center for Media. New York City, USA - 29.04.12
National Public Radio acknowledged on Tuesday that it had received numerous complaints from viewers over sponsorship ads by the recently launched Al Jazeera America. Some listeners are upset, accusing NPR of being unpatriotic or naive. Some add that it also has been unethical, wrote Edward Schumacher-Matos, the ombudsman for NPR, on the public broadcaster's website. He then proceded to cite some of those letters. Whether NPR should even accept the sponsorship from Al Jazeera is a separate matter of management policy that is outside my purview, Schumacher-Matos observed. But I do have a vital interest in anything that restricts free speech, and this essentially is what the complaining listeners want to do. He disagreed with those who have accused Al Jazeera of broadcasting hate speech, maintaining that the new Al Jazeera America network has so far proven itself to be straightforward in its news presentation, perhaps more even than its CNN, Fox and MSNBC competitors. The network has set out to be more like the BBC or the early CNN, with lots and lots of real news. In any case, he concluded, questions of bias or independence are irrelevant when it comes to whether NPR should accept sponsorship or cable networks should carry the new network. Many news outlets have a bias. What matters is whether Al Jazeera America's falls within the acceptable boundaries of decency and free speech, and clearly it does.