Al Jazeera America to Shut DownBusiness, Featured, Latest News Wednesday, January 13th, 2016
BALTIMORE, MD (AFRICAN EXAMINER) – The cable news channel Al Jazeera America, which debuted in 2013 to great fanfare when it promised to cover American news soberly and seriously, will be shutting down by the end of April. The move was announced at a companywide meeting on Wednesday.
In a memo to the staff, Al Jazeera America’s chief executive, Al Anstey, said the “decision by Al Jazeera America’s board is driven by the fact that our business model is simply not sustainable in light of the economic challenges in the U.S. media marketplace.”
“I know the closure of AJAM will be a massive disappointment for everyone here who has worked tirelessly for our long-term future,” he continued, using the company acronym. “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.”
At the companywide meeting, Al Jazeera America staff members, some in tears, were told that the decision to shutter the network had not been unanimous. Some of the channel’s leadership argued that the network provided an important service, and continued to win awards for its coverage. But in the end, the decision was an economic one. The channel, it was felt, had fallen victim to the lack of a business model beyond continuous support from Qatar, the energy-rich country that owns Al Jazeera.
Some staffers saw that as a tacit admission that falling oil prices were behind the closure, though a spokeswoman for the company denied that on Wednesday.
Beyond its oil wealth, Qatar is one of the world’s top exporters of liquefied natural gas, whose price has also tumbled.
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