Al Jazeera America shuts down after less than three years

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Al Jazeera America has signed off following a failed attempt to break into the United States cable news market.

The channel was shut down on Tuesday, 32 months after it was launched by the international media group based in the Qatari capital, Doha.

The decision to close the channel was announced in January and was set to be completed with the airing of a three-hour live farewell showing the channel’s coverage since its launch.

The media group paid some USD 500 million to launch the US-based offshoot known as AJAM. The outlet, however, could not compete with American news channels to attract audience in the US.

AJAM was launched in mid-2013 after it employed 850 staff and opened 12 bureaus in the US and a state-of-the art studio in New York. It is not immediately clear how many people lost their jobs because of the shutdown.

AJAM faced a series of problems and a number of its former employees made complaints over a “culture of fear” among employees. A lawsuit was also made against the outlet for mistreatment of female employees.

AJAM chief executive Al Anstey told staff that he knew the closure “will be a massive disappointment for everyone here.” 

Last month, the media group said it had dismissed 500 employees due to the financial crisis at the tiny sheikhdom of Qatar. The reduction affected posts worldwide. Some 300 positions were cut at the Doha base too.

Qatar is facing its first budget deficit in over a decade this year amid a slump in oil prices, which has hit the finances of Persian Gulf Arab countries hard.

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