This shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone, but I'm not a fan of American news outlets. Television news coverage in the US is fueled by commercials and profit rather than quality reporting, and many stories often hinge on being absurd at best. It is impossible to get a true grasp of the country's place in the world when your news information is filtered and censored to such a degree that we're almost always "seen" as the sole valiant source of good in the world. But unfortunately, accessing international television news stations has always been difficult, if not impossible, for most Americans. That is, until now.
Livestation is a somewhat new piece of software that aims to simplify and enhance the live online video experience. Streaming video has existed for many years now in various forms, but accessing feeds and maintaining a stable image hasn't always been easy. Livestation challenges this by offering a simple player with a direct channel lineup and an easy system for adding new feeds through a web-based user account interface. The real beauty comes in the form of partner channels. Livestation hosts a series of global news channels that are "officially sanctioned," so to speak. Though the channel selection varies from country to country, users in the United States can access two of my favorite international stations: Al Jazeera English and Frace24. Yes, feeds of these stations can be found elsewhere, but from what I've experienced, Livestation by-far is the easiest to access and carries the best quality. Though I wish Livestation offered a full spectrum of channels (aka, not just news), licensing problems most likely prohibit it. It's closest relative, Zattoo, offers a wide range of programming, but it's only available in a handful of European countries.
So why not just flip on your television and watch MSNBC/CNN/etc? Well for one thing, their content probably isn't worth your time. You'll be inundated with commercial breaks, and you'll be fed mostly information that is favorable to the United States. But more important is the fact that media delivery is quickly moving from the realm of cable/satellite providers into the hands of the world wide web. Never before has it been so easy for the end user to legally access full-length shows and movies from any broadband-enabled computer. With network sites and mega-providers such as Hulu.com, many consumers are quickly failing to see a need for their cable providers. Livestation, and similar services, are a step in the right direction in this regard.
Livestation is available as a download from www.livestation.com. The software is compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux machines, as long as the computer has access to a fairly fast internet connection. Use of the service requires a Livestation account (also free), which allows for easy channel management. Though many improvements can still be made, Livestation is the first streaming television service I've tested that is actually worth using on a daily basis. I highly recommend everyone give it a try.