VerizonFiOS TV will no longer carry Bridges TV, a niche channel aimed at providing coverage for the Muslim American community.
The channel, based in NYC, has a following of 60,000 people across the country through its newsletter, though it does not track its on-air ratings. It airs two daily half hour newscasts and a variety of other Islamic and non-Islamic programming including documentaries, cooking shows and children’s cartoons.
Bridges TV news director and anchor Samantha Azzar said Verizon informed her that the channel would be dropped on March 15. Azzar said Verizon cited Bridges TV’s low viewership as the reason, though the company would not provide her with ratings information.
“They gave us the run-around,” Azzar said. “There’s been nothing formal from them.”
Verizon declined to produce numerical data to Metro, but did say the decision was based on viewership.
“We offer one of the most compelling, comprehensive channel lineups available today. We sometimes need to make changes to our FiOS TV channel lineup in order to continue offering our customers the best service possible,” Verizon spokesperson Heather Wilner told Metro.
Bridges TV is also carried on Cox, Comcast and Time Warner in select markets, but Azzar says Verizon was by far the network’s greatest source of revenue.
“Without Verizon, we will cease to exist. We won’t be able to stay on,” Azzar said. “There will be no voice for local Muslim Americans to cover stories that are important to them.”
Bridges TV is the only English speaking Muslim channel based in the U.S. The mission statement of the network is to provide “lifestyle oriented programming that aims to foster a greater understanding between the West and MESA (Middle Eastern/South Asian) religions, its cultures, and diverse populations.”
About ten people work at the network’s Long Island City based studio, with freelancers employed across the country. The channel made headlines in 2009 when then-owner Muzzammil Hassan was arrested and charged with beheading his wife, Aasiya Zubair, who was also the station’s general manager. The murder happened at the station’s former studio in Buffalo, New York.