Persistently low viewership and a competitive market are being cited for the network's closure after just three years
NEW YORK (Talk Media News) – Upstart cable news outlet Al Jazeera America signed off for the last time on Tuesday, sending more than 700 journalists to the ranks of the unemployed.
The Qatari-backed network lasted less than three years on air before succumbing to what the network’s CEO called “economic challenges in the U.S. media marketplace.”
“We’ve tried to bring you the stories that other news organizations don’t,” news presenter Antonio Mora said in the network’s closing moments, “and we hope we have lived up to our promise to be the voice of the voiceless and to speak truth to power.”
— Al Jazeera America (@ajam) April 13, 2016
Faced with closure, Al Jazeera America nevertheless pushed ahead on major reporting projects until the very end, releasing the last in its four-part documentary “The Limits of Hope: Inside Obama’s White House” on Sunday. Produced in coordination with the BBC, the miniseries was hailed by The Los Angeles Times as “a fascinating look into the nuts and bolts of how policy has been made.”
Of the 700 layoffs that accompany the network shut down, many of them are in New York City, where the channel maintained its headquarters. Al Jazeera America once employed upwards of 900 reporters, editors and production staff, though that total dropped to 700 after poor television ratings in 2013 prompted a round of layoffs.
Cable providers will soon get the chance to reassign Al Jazeera America’s hard-won spot on many TV lineups, but the channel’s replacement could be another Al Jazeera offering: Al Jazeera English.
Plans are underway to expand the reach of Al Jazeera’s flagship English-language channel in the wake of the Al Jazeera America closure.
“By expanding [Al Jazeera English] digital content and distribution services to now include the U.S., the network will be better positioned to innovate and compete in an overwhelmingly digital world to serve today’s 24-hour digitally focused audience,” the network said in a January statement announcing Al Jazeera America’s planed closure.