Al Jazeera America to shut down by April
Al Jazeera America will cease its cable TV and digital operations by April 30 of this year. As many as 700 staff members could lose their jobs, according to sources at the company. Al Jazeera said it would not give up on the American market entirely. It indicated that the company plans to "expand its existing international digital services" in the United States.
Overview of Al Jazeera
Launched in 1996, Al Jazeera is a Doha-based state funded broadcaster, which is partly funded by the House of Thani, the ruling family of Qatar. Translated from Arabic, "Al Jazeera" means "peninsula." Al Jazeera is among the largest news organizations with 80 bureaus around the world. It reaches to more than 270 million households in over 40 countries across the globe.
Al Jazeera launches US-based news channel
Al Jazeera launched its U.S.-based network Al Jazeera America on 20 August 2013. The new network replaced Current TV, the cable news channel co-founded by Al Gore, which Al Jazeera acquired for around $500 million. Headquartered in New York City with bureaus in 12 cities across the United States, Al Jazeera America is available to more than 60 million people in the United states.
Al Jazeera America's awards
Al Jazeera America won many prestigious prizes from Peabody, Emmy, Gracie, Eppy and DuPont awards to a Shorty Award for best Twitter newsfeed, and Newswomen's Club of New York's Front Page awards.
Internal strife at Al Jazeera America
Management problems and labor issues plagued Al Jazeera America (AJAM). In May, AJAM fired its CEO Ehab Al Shihabi after The New York Times published a story that chronicled "a deep dysfunction" in management and "the culture of fear" engendered by his leadership. AJAM was also hit with lawsuit from a former employee alleging sexism and anti-Semitism in the newsroom.
The issue of low ratings and viewership
Al Jazeera America's ratings have remained anaemic since beginning. In prime time, the channel only averaged between 20,000 and 40,000 viewers per day. CNN, Fox News, etc have well over ten times as many viewers.
Economic challenges- reason for the shut down
Al Jazeera cited economic challenges in the American media market as the reason for its decision to shut down. Al Jazeera America CEO Al Anstey said that the board was "driven by the fact that our business model is simply not sustainable in light of the economic challenges in the U.S. media marketplace." According to some, the falling oil prices were behind the closure.