Al Jazeera America Reveals Plans to Shut Down in Spring

Al Jazeera
A man works at a desk in the Al Jazeera America broadcast center in New York on August 20, 2013. Al Jazeera America is said to be shutting down by April 30. Brendan McDermid/Reuters

Al Jazeera America (AJAM), the cable news channel that debuted only two and a half years ago, will cease operations in 2016.

Employees of the network were informed of the news at an all-staff meeting on Wednesday, according to a Politico report. Staff members were told by executives that Al Jazeera America's business model is "no longer sustainable."

"I know this will be a massive disappointment for everyone here who has worked tirelessly for our long-term future," Chief Executive Officer Al Anstey wrote in a company memo. "The decision that has been made is in no way because AJAM has done anything but a great job."

Al Jazeera America is said to be shutting down by April 30, although the network will be expanding its "global digital services," Anstey wrote in the same memo.

The station's parent network, Al Jazeera Media Network, owns 82 news bureaus internationally, making it a massive media conglomerate. AJAM was launched as the sister station of the Qatar-based Al Jazeera English, which was founded in 2006.

The American arm of the Arab-language broadcaster launched in 2013 with ambitious plans to bring informed and nonpartisan reporting to U.S. audiences. The network made buzzy hires and sought in-depth reportage on both domestic and global affairs.

But audiences dwindled—prime-time ratings sometimes struggling to exceed 30,000 viewers," according to a New York Times report, and the network was plagued by internal turmoil and major leadership changes in recent months. Ehab Al Shihabi, the former CEO, was pushed out in May.

It's unclear how many AJAM employees will be laid off as a result of the changes, though severance packages are reported to be generous.