Early this year Al Jazeera bought Current TV in order to build a large news organization in the US and all seems to be on track. According to the interim CEO Ehab Al Shihabi, Al Jazeera America (AJA) is “more than ready” for its US launch on August 20th. With about 1,000 employees, about a dozen bureaus around the country, and several high-profile hires, the network is set to reach over 50 million people at launch — but several big cable companies like Time Warner won’t be airing the channel.
The channel, which is privately owned and funded by the government of Qatar, is also claiming it will shun big profits by airing fewer commercials — approximately six minutes per hour, less than half the US industry standard. High profile hires include well-known TV journalists like Soledad O’Brian, David Shuster, and John Seigenthaler.
The network will stay away from pundits and crazy celebrity news
AJA won’t be focusing primarily on the middle east, Africa and Asia as it does here, however; instead it plans on committing to covering issues in the US. In fact, AJA executives haven’t been shy about comparing themselves to other cable networks. Shahabi says that “we are not infotainment” and Al Jazeera America president Kate O’Brian says the network will “stay away from pundits and crazy celebrity news.”
The Quatar owned network may not need big ratings to stick around. Renowned journalist Seigenthaler says he joined the networks in part because “they said they are not interested in ratings, they are interested in delivering the news.”