The American arm of the Qatar-based Al Jazeera network will shut down on April 30, less than three years after it debuted as an alternative in the world of cable broadcast news.
In a memo to Al Jazeera America staff Wednesday, CEO Al Anstey said the channel’s business model is “simply not sustainable in light of the economic challenges in the U.S. media marketplace.”
Although more details weren’t given, Anstey added that the network’s parent company planned to expand its global digital coverage later this year.
“I know the closure of AJAM will be a massive disappointment for everyone here who has worked tirelessly for our long-term future,” Anstey added. “The decision that has been made is in no way because AJAM has done anything but a great job. Our commitment to great journalism is unrivaled.”
Al Jazeera bought Al Gore’s Current TV for $500 million and launched an American offshoot in August 2013, promising to deliver in-depth journalism on serious topics.
However, although Al Jazeera America garnered several accolades for its work, it was unable to convince viewers to tune in. The channel was available to about 54 million households, but prime-time ratings hovered around 30,000 viewers, The New York Times reported.
Philip Seib, author of “The Al Jazeera Effect,” told the Associated Press that the news of the network’s closure was “certainly not surprising.”
“In the news environment today, there is so much competition that it is virtually impossible for a new company to get any traction,” he said.