Executives at Al Jazeera America announced on Wednesday that the media outlet would shut down its offices by April 30. Al Jazeera America was media giant Al Jazeera’s first foray into the American media landscape.
The company’s Chief Executive, Al Anstey, announced the closure in a memo to staff.
“[The] decision [to shut down the company] 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,” the memo stated.
The channel was launched in August 2013 after Al Jazeera purchased former American Vice-President Al Gore’s Current TV for $500 million. Al Jazeera America’s premiere was met with great fanfare, and the news organizations promised to rise above the “shouting matches” which have come to dominate American cable news.
Unfortunately, the media outlet struggled to gain a proper foothold in the hyper-competitive world of American media. Compounding this issue were a series of calamities that hit Al Jazeera America’s newsroom in 2015.
A large number of top executives left the company, and several former employees filed highly publicized lawsuits alleging sexism and anti-Semitism. The issues became so pronounced that Ehab Al Shihabi, the Chief Executive of the company, was replaced by Mr. Anstey.
Some believed that the company’s failures lay in a lack of a coherent business model. Instead, it seemed, the company relied on the steady financing from Qatar, where the parent company is located.
The drop in global oil prices may have also affected the decision to close Al Jazeera America. The closure of the news channel is expected to lead to the loss of up to 700 jobs.
Mr. Anstey announced that Al Jazeera planned on expanding its digital presence in the US after Al Jazeera America shuts down in April.