During a company-wide meeting on Wednesday, network executives said Al Jazeera America’s business model was “no longer sustainable,” according to Politico. Al Jazeera America CEO Al Anstey followed the meeting with a note to all employees, in which he assured staffers that the quality of their work was not to blame.
“The decision is driven by the fact that our business model is simply not sustainable in an increasingly digital world, and because of the current global financial challenges,” Anstey wrote. “I know this will be a massive disappointment for everyone here who has worked tirelessly for our long-term future. The decision that has been made is in no way because AJAM has done anything but a great job. Our commitment to great journalism is unrivaled.”
Instead, Al Jazeera will be doubling down on its digital coverage, Anstey explained, as “the network plans to expand its global digital services later this year.”
Al Jazeera was originally brought stateside with a mission to disrupt the frothy cable news landscape with in-depth, meaningful reporting. But the channel never quite established a wide audience–its ratings didn’t even crack 30,000 viewers during prime time in 2015. Last year also saw a number of top execs leaving Al Jazeera America, including the replacement of former CEO Ehab Al Shihabi with Anstey.
Below is Anstey’s email in full, as obtained by Politico:
You will have just seen the announcement from the Network about the closure of Al Jazeera America by April 30th this year. In the same email you will see the Network plans to expand its global digital services later this year. The decision is driven by the fact that our business model is simply not sustainable in an increasingly digital world, and because of the current global financial challenges.
I know this will be a massive disappointment for everyone here who has worked tirelessly for our long-term future. The decision that has been made is in no way because AJAM has done anything but a great job. Our commitment to great journalism is unrivaled. We have increasingly set ourselves apart from all the rest. And you are the most talented team any organization could wish for.
We are working hard to ensure we put our people at the forefront of every decision related to the closure of AJAM, and we do the right thing by you. There will be a series of HR briefings meetings later today where this will be discussed in more detail and your questions can be answered. The briefings will also outline a number of other measures that are being taken in order to support every one of you as a result of today’s announcement.
You are a brilliant team made up of the most committed, professional, and dedicated people. I am deeply impressed and appreciative of the dedication and skill demonstrated by every one of you.
In recent months at every level, and in every department, we have been making progress and demonstrated improvements and seen positive change. Our audiences continue to climb. Slowly, but steadily. Our Editorial excellence was demonstrated time and time again on the major stories of recent months. And we continue to win praise from our colleagues in the industry, and from our viewers for the quality of our output.
Between now and April, we will continue to show America why AJAM has won respect and the fierce loyalty of so many of our viewers, who have steadfastly supported us from day one. Through your remarkable work at AJAM we have shown that there is a different way of reporting news and providing information. The foundation of this is integrity, great journalism, impartiality, and a commitment to the highest quality story telling. This will be our lasting impact, and as we produce and showcase the best of our work in the weeks to come this will be clear for everyone to see.
For me personally, it is a privilege and honor to work with you all. I arrived in New York six months ago prepared for a great challenge and committed to working with you all to build our content and reputation into the future. I quickly realized I had joined one of the best teams anyone could ever hope to work with.
I’m truly sad that that future we were making great strides towards cannot be realized. However, the achievements of the past two and a half years should be a source of great pride for everyone. 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.