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Al Jazeera America is shutting down

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The New York Times reports Al Jazeera America is shutting down later this year. The staff was informed at a companywide meeting on Wednesday, and the decision was elaborated upon in a memo from Al Jazeera America chief executive Al Anstey, who noted that it was “a massive disappointment for everyone here who has worked tirelessly for our long-term future.” Operations will cease as of April 30 after which, Anstey told the Times, Al Jazeera would expand its digital presence to “bring new global content into America.”

The embattled cable-news channel debuted in 2013 with the promise of a more “sober look at the news”: Rather than parade loud proselytizers in front of its viewers, AJAM originally sought to deliver just the “fact-based, unbiased and in-depth news.” But it seems that mission statement proved antithetical to garnering a large audience, as the Times notes that the channel’s primetime ratings “struggled to exceed 30,000.” It sounds like low viewership hung over the heads of AJAM’s news team like an indifferent sword; last year, the Times covered the “culture of fear” that was prevalent in AJAM offices thanks to woefully thin profit margins. And in his memo to the staff, Anstey admitted the decision to shut down the channel was “driven by the fact that our business model is simply not sustainable in light of the economic challenges in the U.S. media marketplace.”


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