Al Jazeera America (AJAM), the US outpost for the Al Jazeera Network, has announced that it is ceasing all TV and Digital operations in the United States, effective by April 30th. Employees at the network, which was launched in 2013 with significant investment, $500m after acquiring Current TV, were informed of the decision at an “all-hands” staff meeting in New York City this afternoon.
Al Jazeera, the Qatar-based broadcaster, created the channel in an effort to lure the US audience to their brand of news, with more of a global perspective and depth, counter to the more “bite-sized” offerings of other US-based news channels. However, the network struggled to gain an audience and was only available in around 60 million US homes.
According to an email sourced by Politico and circulated to staff by CEO Al Anstey, "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.”
Most recently, the network was embroiled in controversy with an in-depth story alleging that star Denver Broncos quarterback, Peyton Manning, used banned substances (specifically, human growth hormone, or HGH) in 2011. Two other athletes named in the The Dark Side report, Ryan Howard of the Philadelphia Phillies and Ryan Zimmerman of the Washington Nationals sued the network for libel and invasion of privacy. Manning, according to NBC Sports on January 6th, has not decided whether or not to sue.
Politico also noted that employees can stay another 90 days with pay and benefits and that those who are willing to stay will receive retention bonuses, eight weeks of severance pay and outplacement services upon their departure.