The fall in oil price has hurt the Qatar-owned broadcaster
Al-Jazeera is expected to cut almost a quarter of its total workforce worldwide as a means of making savings amid falling oil prices.
The Qatari-owned broadcaster will let an estimated 800 to 1,000 staff go as early as this week with broadcasters, journalists, technicians and other support staff working in both English and Arabic language channels expected to have the news confirmed in the coming days.
It is understood that an internal email warned some staff to expect “painful cuts” with one senior member of staff commenting during yesterday’s budget meeting that “It’s going to happen, unless there is an intervention at the highest level.”
Al-Jazeera America, which the organisation spent more than $600m (£390m) launching in 2013, will be the only region to be exempt from the cuts. This means the 4,700 employees working in its Arabic language division in Doha will bear the brunt of the company’s cost saving measures.
Much of Qatar’s wealth is based on gas reserves and the country’s ruler, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, has saw the state’s wealth suffer as a result of failing oil prices which has had a knock on effect with gas prices.
The cuts could signal a backpedalling in the Sheikh’s commitment to the news media group which Tamim’s father, Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, helped launch in 1996.
While the struggling American arm of the company, based in Washington, will avoid the cuts it remains in trouble as a result of low ratings since its launch. In May the network replaced its chief executive following several senior staff departures and a lawsuit claiming wrongful employment.
A spokesperson for al-Jazeera would not confirm the job cuts but said “there was likely to be something soon”.