Strong reactions to 'Al Jazeera America' - FOX 13 News

Strong reactions to 'Al Jazeera America'

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

State Vacuum of Tampa has been in business for 67 years, and for more than 25 of those years, they've advertised on the radio on Newsradio 970 WFLA.

Monday, that long relationship ended.

"As of today, we are no longer advertising with WFLA 970," said State Vacuum owner David Epstein.

It's over, but not because the advertising wasn't effective. State Vacuum stepped away because of another ad they heard on the 970 airwaves.

"They basically said that they were contracted by the national office that Al Jazeera was advertising nationally," said Epstein.

Epstein says he's pulled his ads because he's opposed to Al Jazeera.

"I feel as though they're certainly not pro-American, let's put it that way," explained Epstein.

Epstein says several of his customers called him outraged after they heard the ad.

Al Jazeera, the news network based in the Middle Eastern nation of Qatar, has recently launched Al Jazeera America.

Tampa Bay Times media critic Eric Deggans says this backlash isn't surprising.

"I think people, in an odd way, are just reacting to the name and the fact that the original channel is a showcase for Middle Eastern points of view," said Deggans.

Deggans believes Al Jazeera earned a bad name in the United States, justified or not, after they aired tapes made by Osama bin Laden when he was alive and at large.

"Suddenly they were branded a terrorist organization. But to Al Jazeera, what they were doing was they had news and they were disseminating it," continued Deggans.

970 released a statement on the issue that read, in part: "WFLA-AM has no bias or political point of view regarding the content of ads we air on our station."

Those ads continue to air, and because of them, at least one longtime advertiser is taking his business elsewhere.

"Unless you hit these companies exactly where it counts, which is in the pocketbook, I don't think they hear ya," added Epstein.

Al Jazeera America will be staffed with American journalists reporting American issues. The channel is funded by the government of Qatar who, according to the State Department, does not sponsor terrorism.

Bright House Networks does not carry Al Jazeera America, so most cable subscribers in the Tampa Bay area cannot watch their product.

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