The Qatar-based Al Jazeera Media Network announced Wednesday it will shut down its Al Jazeera America cable network effective April 30.
The decision comes after a run of two and a half years on the air. But at the bottom line, the network was not a big sell to Americans.
“While Al Jazeera America built a loyal audience across the US and increasingly was recognized as an important new voice in television news, the economic landscape of the media environment has driven its strategic decision to wind down its operations and conclude its service,” the company said in a statement.
Al Jazeera America CEO Al Anstey further explained, “Our business model is simply not sustainable in light of the economic challenges in the U.S. media marketplace.”
The government of Qatar had originally purchased the Current TV cable news channel co-founded by former U.S. vice-president Al Gore for some $500 million in 2013, and it was from that base the network was launched.
As many as 700 staff members may lose their jobs, according to an unnamed source quoted by CNN. The NewsGuild of New York is the union representing 46 of the digital journalists at Al Jazeera America; NGNY was told by the network that it employs 291 staff members, according to a report by USA Today. The newspaper cited low ratings, operational problems and a lack of advertisers as the main reasons for the network’s failure to thrive.
Network executives said in a statement on the website from Doha that the company plans to “expand its existing international digital services to broaden its multi-platform presence” in the U.S.
Al Jazeera is hoping for better success on the Internet, where “U.S. and non U.S. consumers alike” can access its programming via “mobile devices for news and information…. journalism and content, wherever and whenever they want.”
Al Jazeera already has a considerable presence on the Internet, together with its Middle Eastern satellite television network. It is not clear whether the network would send its current Doha programming to the U.S., or continue the American cable network programming, via the Internet.Hana Levi Julian