Al Jazeera America, the Qatari-owned cable news station that launched in 2013, will shut down at then end of April, the company announced during a staff meeting this afternoon.
“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,” Al Jazeera America CEO Al Anstey wrote in a memo first obtained by The New York Times.
The Arab news network bought Current TV, the cable channel co-founded by Al Gore, in 2013 for a reported $500 million. It’s splashy launch, complete with a party that featured a performance by Jennifer Hudson, was billed as a serious news outlet that sought to bring deep, unbiased reporting to cable news.
“We are here tonight to do more than just celebrate our launch. Honestly, that was just the start of Al Jazeera America story,” Ehab Al Shihabi, who was the CEO until he was replaced by Mr. Antsey this past May, said at the lavish launch party held at Alice Tully Hall. “The next step, which began even before the channel actually went on air, is to demonstrate to our viewers that Al Jazeera America provides unbiased and objective reporting from the domestic and international news that is important to Americans.”
But despite its ambitious goals, the channel struggled with ratings, and became the subject of controversy and staff upheaval.