Date
24 September 2017
Al Jazeera America has been struggling to boost ratings and widen distribution. Photo: Reuters
Al Jazeera America has been struggling to boost ratings and widen distribution. Photo: Reuters

Al Jazeera America to sign off amid financial woes

Cable television news network Al Jazeera is shutting down its American channel by April 30 for economic reasons, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The move came amid recent cutbacks at the Doha, Qatar-based network, which runs several channels, including its flagship Arabic channel and an international English channel.

“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,” American channel chief executive Al Anstey said.

The Qatari government, which supports Al Jazeera, gets about 90 percent of its budget from the energy sector, the newspaper said, citing data from the International Monetary Fund.

Oil was trading near US$30 a barrel on Wednesday, down from US$100 when Al Jazeera America was launched in 2013.

The US channel has been facing acute financial problems, the Journal said.

It noted that after acquiring former US vice president Al Gore’s Current TV for nearly US$500 million, Al Jazeera invested more than US$2 billion in the American channel.

It hired about 800 journalists and opened 12 bureaus around the country.

While its investigative reports won awards and plaudits, the channel struggled to boost ratings and widen distribution.

The channel, which is seen in about 60 million homes, even had to pay distributors instead of the other way around, the newspaper quoted sources as saying.

Rival cable news networks are in 90 million homes or more, the report said.

– Contact us at [email protected]

CG

EJI Weekly Newsletter

Please click here to unsubscribe