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January 14, 2016

The Demise of Cable News Channel Al-Jazeera America?

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Will Al-Jazeera America television phase itself off by April 30, 2016 as widely reported?

According to the network’s Website, “Al Jazeera America will shutter its cable TV and digital operations by April 30 of this year, the company announced Wednesday [January 13]. The decision by the AJAM board 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,’ said AJAM CEO Al Anstey [in a memo to staff]... ”

National news media covered the story with varying degrees of superficiality. New York Times mentioned CEO Anstey’s memo to staff and speculated, “Some staffers saw that as a tacit admission that falling oil prices were behind the closure, though a spokeswoman for the company denied that on Wednesday.”Atlantic magazine Website confined its brief coverage basically to CEO Anstey’s memo to staff.

The Washington Times’s more detailed coverage mentioned the network’s anti-Israel bias, “Conservatives slammed what they called the network’s anti-Israel, left-wing bias — 'It was MSNBC with an even more anti-American slant,' said Mr. [Dan] Gainor [of Media Research Center in Alexandria, Va.] — while the liberal Website Intercept described it as a ‘diluted, extra-fearful version of CNN.'” Wall Street Journal mentioned falling oil prices and said, “Al Jazeera America has been battling business woes and internal controversies that have led to the departure of some senior executives.”

But news coverage in general missed key aspects of this story. These included:

Why tiny, petro-dollar supported Qatar, whose royal family controls the original Arabic Al-Jazeera satellite and cable television channel and Al-Jazeera English, aimed largely at non-U.S. audiences, would have paid $500 million for U.S. cable's largely unwatched Current TV channel and converted it to the expensive Al-Jazeera America operation; and

What was the point of Al-Jazeera America's chronically, if rarely reported, anti-Israel coverage? For more, see
CAMERA’s Al-Jazeera America Watch. More to come soon from CAMERA on this story.

Posted by MK at January 14, 2016 03:52 PM

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