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Al Jazeera to shut down its America channel

MUMBAI: The new voice in American television news will cease to be heard. Al Jazeera America, which launched in 2013, will shut down by 30 April due to economic reasons.

Al Jazeera said that the decision to wind down the news channel in America was driven by the economic landscape of the media environment in the US.

Though the US channel filled in differentiated content, it failed to garner high ratings and found distribution always a challenge.

To find a way in the US market, Al Jazeera, backed by the oil-and-gas-rich government of Qatar, bought A Gore’s Current TV for nearly $500 million. It also invested $2 billion, appointed 800 journalists and opened 12 bureaus. The focus was on investigative journalism.

For distributing the channel, Al Jazeera America had to pay carriage fee. The channel is now available in 60 million homes. Viewership also was thin.

The channel was perceived to have an anti-American bias. Al Jazeera’s Arabic channel, after all, had provided an outlet for Osama bin Laden.

Al Jazeera Media Network said that it would now “expand its existing international digital services to broaden its multi-platform presence in the United States.” As audiences increasingly turn to multiple platforms, including mobile devices, for news and information, this expansion will allow US and non-US consumers alike to access the Network’s journalism and content wherever and whenever they want.

The expanded digital platform will augment the Network’s successful current digital offerings, including AJ+ which has achieved more than two billion online video views since its inception in September 2014.

Al Jazeera said it would provide more details of the expansion plans of its multi-platform digital services to the US in the coming months.