Less than three years after its high-profile launch, Al Jazeera America, the cable television news outlet owned by Qatar-based Al Jazeera Media Network, is shutting down its cable news channel despite spending heavily to break into the US market.
The U.S. cable network will cease operations by April 30. CEO Al Anstey said the business model “is simply not sustainable in light of the economic challenges”.
Back in 2013, Al Jazeera bought Current TV, a U.S.-based television network owned by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and his business partner Joel Hyatt, to launch Al Jazeera America for $500 million. The new network was supposed to be a more serious and profound alternative to CNN and Fox News.
The Qatar-based broadcaster disbursed millions of dollars bringing in top US journalists; however, it struggled to attract viewers to its news programmes
Moreover, the network was almost immediately confronted with challenges as distributors, including Time Warner Cable Inc (TWC.N) and AT&T Inc (T.N), argued that they had contracted with Current TV and not Al Jazeera.
Al Jazeera promised to expand its existing international digital services in the United States, after the channel shuts down in April.
The network will present more details about the expansion of its digital services in the United States over the coming months, it said.
Al Jazeera America was available in about 60 million American homes. The channel reached an average of 19,000 viewers each day in 2015, far less than its competitors, Politico noted.
In addition, the channel struggled with internal turmoil, including multiple discrimination lawsuits that ended up ousting its founding CEO.