Not even three years old, Al Jazeera America is closing its doors due to abysmally low ratings, lack of revenue and a cadre of ethical, legal and administrative issues.
The oft-troubled network is operated by Qatar-based Al Jazeera and had started operation in 2013 under the guise of offering sober and serious news to America and is scheduled to go off the air by the end of April 2016.
In a not-exactly-honest memo to staff, The network never caught on only gathering 54,000 viewers at peak:
In a memo to the staff, Al Jazeera America’s chief executive, Al Anstey, said the “decision 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.”
“I know the closure of AJAM will be a massive disappointment for everyone here who has worked tirelessly for our long-term future,” he continued. “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.”
While the network never caught on only gathering 30,000 viewers in prime-time , there were a multitude of mis-steps that likely sealed AJA’s fate.
The network got started after former Vice President Al Gore sold his floundering “Current TV” network to Al Jazeera for $500 million, but the beginning might just have been as good as things were going to get for the new entry into cable news.
In December, the news outlet aired a poorly-sourced story linking NFL and NBA players to steroid use, which the unchecked source was forced to later admit was completely false.
The steroid story followed the November discovery that Al Jazeera America’s general counsel was suspended after a New York Times story exposed that he may not actually be licensed to practice law.
Mismanagement, no real need for yet another cable network, ethics issues – all could easily be blamed for the ultimate demise of Al Jazeera’s attempt to break into the American market, but another culprit may be just as likely – it kinda sucked.