Al Jazeera is set to cut around 500 jobs as part of a workforce optimisation initiative. The broadcaster has said that this would mostly affect those in positions at the company’s headquarters in Qatar and it is expected that the first job losses could occur in the next week. Al Jazeera broadcasting network was launched in 1996 and now has over 70 bureaus worldwide. The news comes just months after the announcement of the closure of Al Jazeera America’s cable TV and digital operations.
Al Jazeera America, owned by Qatar-based Al Jazeera, is set to end its cable TV and digital operations by April 30, 2016, less than three years after launching. The decision comes at the same time as the channel’s parent company decided to commit to an expansion of worldwide online content into the US. Since launching in 2013, the channel has won numerous journalism awards, including an Emmy for Outstanding Investigative Journalism in a News Magazine, two Overseas Press Club Awards and three Gracies Awards. The channel is headquartered in New York City and has bureaus in 12 cities across the U.S.
Al Jazeera America has signed a distribution deal with Time Warner Cable offering access to millions of households in the New York and Los Angeles regions of the United States. Just days after launch in August 2013, the Qatar-owned broadcaster hit rocky ground after American-based telecoms group, AT&T, dropped the network from its U-verse television subscription service, taking its distribution down from 41 million homes to just 36 million homes.
It’s only been a matter of days since Al Jazeera America launched, but it has already hit rocky ground. The Qatar-based television network plans to sue American-based telecoms group, AT&T, for dropping it from the U-verse television subscription service. The blow came just one day before Al Jazeera America went live on August 20, 2013, instantly rocking its potential viewing figures by taking its distribution down from 41 million homes to just 36 million homes. This was the second such setback for Al Jazeera America, having bought the Current TV network from former United States Vice President, Al Gore, in January this year. Within hours of the deal being signed, Time Warner announced it would no longer be carrying the channel, immediately wiping nearly 20 million homes off the 60 million reach that Current TV initially had.
It’s not all bad news however, with a number of positive reviews – mixed with the predictable cynicism – some media heavyweights are predicting it may not be long until Al Jazeera America is picked up by more networks.