11:08 GMT +3 hours26 June 2016
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Al-Jazeera America editorial newsroom staff prepare for their first broadcast in New York.

Pulling the Plug: Al Jazeera America Shutting Down Operations

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After less than three years of operation, Al Jazeera America is shutting its doors, laying off hundreds of employees in the process.

On Wednesday, rumors began circulating that a scheduled all-staff meeting at Al Jazeera America (AJAM) was an indication that the cable news outlet was struggling. In the aftermath of that meeting, that speculation has been confirmed.

According to Politico, the AJAM leadership informed staffers that the channel’s business model was "no longer sustainable," and that it will shut down by April 30.

"I know this will be a massive disappointment for everyone here who has worked tirelessly for our long-term future. The decision that has been made is in no way because AJAM has done anything but a great job," reads a company email from CEO Al Anstey, obtained by Politico.

"Our audiences continue to climb. Slowly, but steadily. Our editorial excellence was demonstrated time and time again on the major stories of recent months. And we continue to win praise from our colleagues in the industry, and from our viewers for the quality of our output."

The Qatari-owned network launched six months after Al Jazeera purchased Current TV from Al Gore for $500 million in 2012. Intending to provide an American audience with in-depth analysis of global news, AJAM consistently struggled with ratings. Last year, the channel averaged only 30,000 viewers during prime-time.

The network struggled with internal strife from the beginning as well. Staffers frequently voiced concerns that AJAM was too focused on avoiding political bias, favoring dry content that couldn’t compete with the political favoritism of mainstream US media outlets like MSNBC or Fox News.

This early even-handed approach was meant to rebrand Al Jazeera, which had been dubbed “terrorist propaganda” by the Bush administration, due to its comprehensive and critical coverage of the Iraq War.

"While it has a foreign name, the forthcoming Al Jazeera cable channel in the United States wants to be American through and through," reads a New York Times article from 2013.

AJAM has also been plagued by a series of lawsuits. In June, former senior vice president Shannon High-Bassalik sued the company for "unlawful and discriminatory" treatment of employees, alleging that executives "favored its Arabic and male employees, treating its non-Arabic female employees as second class citizens."

The purchase of Current TV led to a protracted lawsuit between AJAM and Al Gore.

Falling crude prices are also thought to have a hand in the move. With the price of oil dipping below $30 a barrel, the Qatari government, which owns the Al Jazeera Media Group, may be seen to be making tough financial choices.

The announcement does not affect Al Jazeera English, which will continue to operate out of Doha.

According to Politico, employees who remain with the company through a 90-day grace period will receive retention bonuses, as well as eight weeks of severance pay and outplacement services.

Related:
Al Jazeera Buys US-Based Current TV
Activists Storm Al Jazeera’s Office in Beirut: Reports
Al Jazeera to Reveal Hundreds of Secret Intelligence Documents
Tags:
Current TV, Al Jazeera America, Al Jazeera, Al Anstey, Shannon High-Bassalik, Al Gore, Qatar, United States
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  • michael
    I wonder if there is a comment to be made here about the educational standards in the U.S.?
  • The Qatari-owned network launched six months after Al Jazeera purchased Current TV from Al Gore for $500 million in 2012.
    --
    No surprise. Another money laundering operation.
  • Al Jazeera was exposed as a secret ally of Israel and NATO and a propaganda outlet to "justify" whatever NATO wanted. That's what sank Al Jazeera.
  • choticastile
    If Aljazeera or for that matter, all other broadcast networks want to grow and up their ratings, honest and unbiased network coverage on all fronts, is a necessity -- in fact it is critical, simply because the global masses (The People) -- that is US - the ordinary Joe's and Jane's of the world, demand news coverage of the highest integrity - the TRUTH!

    If TPTB think they can prevail against increasingly enlightened Global People Power, they are delusional, as no longer in the Dark Ages -- where falsely created revolutions were the order of the day and swallowed by the people, hook, line and sinker -- today's world is an aware and ever more informed world and a completely different world, where money and power, can no longer corrupt as it once did. People are sick and tired of lies and deception!
  • in reply tochoticastile(Show commentHide comment)
    choticastile, One of the most powerful visuals was that blonde woman with a hostile expression, spewing out lies about Syria or whoever the US/Israel target was at the moment and that Doha stamp just above it. It begged any informed person to turn it off and associate Doha with lies, Doha = lies.
  • Geraldinebattin reply tomichael(Show commentHide comment)
    michael, it's good to see this zionist propaganda news outlet die,is Poland new government not taking the news outlets back of the zionist dogs,the dogs have got there antifa nutcases out protesting against it,the change can't happen fast enough,hail victory Miky boy.
  • choticastilein reply to (Show commentHide comment)
    jas, Absolutely and actually, its sad, because Aljazeera offered very good documentaries -- showing journos committed to bring to light the terrible conditions so many people live under around the globe. But people are put off so by their newscast lies, that they stop tuning in to watch the documentaries. For instance, I am so committed to RT, that I have it on all day, because I want to support RT ratings in my country. At any rate, RT brings the most amazing up to the minute shows and deeply thought provoking documentaries to viewers, after every news cast. I hardly watch my country's home news anymore either, because it remains biased towards the US. Lies about Russia bombing civilians in Syria, perpetuated on our news and that while we're a BRICS country! -- makes me furious. World displays as false -- For instance the story that Obama brought Osama bin Laden to book -- when evidence abounds that the man died well before 9/11 of renal failure and that he was not guilty of perpetrating 9/11. When will the US start realising that not even their own people listen to their corrupt spins -- when the world stopped long ago.
  • Love for Godin reply to (Show commentHide comment)
    jas,

    That's right! One should remember clearly how decent journalists were leaving AJ being forced to report on Syria how Assad "is killing his citizens" yet NATO was a "good guy" of the block. That WAS the final nail in its coffin. Bye-Bye, Al Jazeera, we won't miss you a bit...
  • cavedeborah
    Aha, they thought they could spin the news and turns the American Arabs to the American Only side... no go! LOL LOL
  • FlorianGeyer
    President Putin knows that the masses cannot be conned by blatant propaganda in the internet age.
    TRUTH is the best ambassador and the lies and deception of Al Jazeera and the US controlled propaganda press simply does not work very well now. Even people in the US are waking up and questioning the Washington fantasy world against the reality they have to live with.
  • buckwheatisback
    This is good, one less source of Islamist propaganda in the world. Every country should kick these parasite for Qatar out of there country, if Iran ever crosses the straights to take out the Saudi's, hopefully they hand a right and finish off Qatar too.
  • Korz53
    Good riddance
  • earlw35
    Sooner or later the rest of the US MSM will follow, CNN, FOX, ABC, NBC, & CBS.
  • Randall Lee Hilburn in reply toearlw35(Show commentHide comment)
    earlw35, But Israel will have to go with them because they are part and parcel of the same Zionist entity.
  • Randall Lee Hilburn in reply to (Show commentHide comment)
    jas, That may not have been what they were in the beginning, considering how they once reported on Iraq. But that is certainly what they eventually became and they thus discredited themselves. Their passing goes un-mourned.
  • Randall Lee Hilburn in reply tochoticastile(Show commentHide comment)
    choticastile, The American MSM are completely worthless because they report nothing but propaganda anymore. I rarely pay attention to them anymore, except to get ammunition to use against them and their fascist and Zionist agendas in my writing and my postings on Sputnik. It's always good to know what is on the enemies mind so one can act to counter it as much as possible.

    I agree that RT is a very good news source. It is also one of the main ones I use. Were you aware, since you're in another country, how many renegade American journalists and other commentators who are bared from the American MSM either work for or appear on the site. There are many.

    For awhile the US Government labeled especially RT, but also other similar sites such as Sputnik, FARS, Press TV, etc. as terrorist organizations and they were threatening to charge any Americans who worked for them with abetting terrorism. Access to many of these sites used to be blocked here and I still have many problems fully accessing the RT site. The threats to shut down the sites in the US and start prosecuting people has since been dropped fortunately.

    I have always wondered if our friend Putin maybe talked to Obama behind the scene and told him to lay off, especially of the Russian sites, as they were also threatening to prosecute Russian journalists for espionage.

    Till next time.
  • choticastilein reply toRandall Lee Hilburn (Show commentHide comment)
    Randall Lee Hilburn, Completely at one with you on all counts. In South Africa, born and bred here, the strangest thing happens with RT TV broadcast, but I finally worked out that it occurs when we have thunder and lightning and rain (which we desperately need). However, the glitch only happens on RT -- sound breaks up and one can hardly hear what is being reported. I even spoke to a satellite specialist about it and he said, that the signal from Moscow is obviously not the same as the BBC's or CNN (who listens to either of them, anyway), unless as you say, one wants to know what's happening behind enemy lines! I also wrote to RT about it, around the beginning of 2015... did not expect a response, because at the time I thought someone in my own country was jamming the RT signal. Still, RT did not always broadcast from DC, but at times, directly from Moscow and must admit during our winter, RT was not subjected to the "stutters", as I call it, but now with the summer storms upon us again, the signal break up is bad again. Will have to start watching it on my PC, which is also great, as I can also watch RT UK, not only RT USA.

    With regard to what you said, I think its great how western journos have had bellyful of working for and being controlled by the western MSM and are leaving like flies to join networks committed to genuine true news! A while back someone also commented here on SN, that FARS news agency was not reliable and didn't SN know it and I thought -- yeah, trolls all over the place.

    For some or other reason I think that behind the scenes, the Russian President (president capitalised on purpose) has a lot of pull, but its all very complex and its not that President Putin has any desire to hide what at this time must remain unseen and unheard by the global masses (you and I and the rest of us), but that the global high stakes game, involving especially the big shot countries' economies, at this time requires highly sophisticated political interplay. Anyway, for what its worth, that's my opinion, yet somehow I know I am not far off the mark with such a guess, even if it seems a bit of a wildcard. Randall, I truly believe, that if we only begin to realise how clueless we are, when and if we ever get to know the full story via a series of true documentaries informing us of the real story, behind all the political stories, no thriller ever made, would hold a candle to it. Would it not be grand if Putin one day, could share the full Monty with the world?
  • Randall Lee Hilburn
    The problem you talked about receiving RT is very familiar to me. Making a long story short, that is a technical or engineering problem that RT needs to address. Something is not right with their equipment simply put.

    Due to the unprincipled lust for Iranian oil on the part of Western oil companies, and due to the Zionist influence within the US Government, Iran has become the central focus of a lot of US foreign policy. If you were in the US that would appear blatantly obvious. As a consequence I must take any criticism of Iran with a colossal grain of salt.

    I'm sure Putin knows more about the reality within "The Empire" than he will publicly admit. He is being diplomatic because he has to be. If he were to publicly say all that he knows it would be like cornering a rabid animal. Except this one has nuclear weapons. I hope you understand my analogy.

    I am aware of the reality of a number of incidents, both domestically and in regards to the Cold War, that is completely different than what you would read in the history books as they say. Because I was either an eyewitness myself or personally knew others who were. But even what I know would give only a fragmentary picture of the real world of and by itself. Still, it opened my mind to the fact that received or consensus reality is actually nothing but psychological manipulation which I must always be on guard against.
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