Al Jazeera America to be shutdown
The US based cable channel was launched in August of 2013 by Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera following the acquisition of cable television channel Current TV
An all hands on deck meeting was held this afternoon to inform staff that Al Jazeera America would be shutdown by its owner, Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera. In a staff memo chief executive Al Anstey said “our business model is simply not sustainable in light of the economic challenges in the U.S. media marketplace.”
The channel was launched in August of 2013 following the acquisition of cable television channel Current TV. At first the channel had a hard time getting cable companies, and the channel was forced to deal with negative publicity caused by then chief executive Ehab Al Shihabi who was accused of creating a “culture of fear.”
“I didn’t want to be there anymore because I didn’t like the culture of fear,” one executive told the NYT in May of last year. “People are afraid to lose their jobs if they cross Ehab.”
Ehab left shortly after the controversy broke and was replaced by Al Anstey who was said to bring a better tone to the newsroom, if not real action to improve the channel’s performance.
“Al is a charming guy and he’s brought a level of stability and professionalism that was sorely missed,” one employee told the Financial Times last fall. “He’s saying all the right things but the thing that’s missing is any sense of action.”
Now, apparently, time has run out on the cable channel.
“I know the closure of AJAM will be a massive disappointment for everyone here who has worked tirelessly for our long-term future,” Al Anstey said today. “The decision that has been made is in no way because AJAM has done anything but a great job. Our commitment to great journalism is unrivaled.”
Plans are to shutdown the channel by April 30, but boost its digital presence. A severe trimming of staff, though, would be necessary as the network had brought on quite a bit of talent including former MSNBC anchor David Shuster, former CNN Chief Business Correspondent Ali Velshi, among others.