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Al Jazeera to wind down US operations and expand digital services

Posted on: January 14th, 2016     by Vijaya Cherian

TV-Al-Jazeera AmericaAl Jazeera America (AJAM) will terminate its cable TV and digital operations by April 30 of this year, owing to “a business model [that] is simply not sustainable in light of the economic challenges in the US media marketplace”, the channel’s CEO Al Anstey announced Wednesday. The shutdown will lead to the loss of hundreds of jobs.

Anstey praised the AJAM staff as “a brilliant team made up of the most committed, professional and dedicated people”.

“In the months to come, we will do everything that we can to support you, to work with you and to ensure you are shown the respect you deserve,” he vowed.

Al Jazeera made a bold move in late 2012 when it bought Current TV from Al Gore for USD 500m and launched AJAM six months later. The channel, however, was beset with challenges right from the beginning as it met with strong resistance from both US audiences as well as cable distributors. In addition, continuous legal battles and low ratings made it a difficult market for AJMN. Depreciating oil prices may have been the final straw that compelled the Qatar-based network to wind down its US operations.

In a separate statement, AJAM’s parent company, Al Jazeera Media Network (AJMN), announced that it will expand its digital services to the US market, as more consumers favour mobile devices over linear TV for news.

“As audiences increasingly turn to multiple platforms, including mobile devices, for news and information, this expansion will allow US and non-US consumers alike to access the network’s journalism and content wherever and whenever they want,” the Qatar-based network said in a press statement.

“By expanding its digital content and distribution services to now include the US, the network will be better positioned to innovate and compete in an overwhelmingly digital world to serve today’s 24-hour digitally focused audience.”

AJMN has a successful roster of digital services, including AJ+, which it claims, has received more than two billion online video views since its inception in September 2014.

More details about its digital expansion will be provided in the coming months, the network added.

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