Awwww…Dozens of staff laid off at Al-Jazeera America

Considering they don’t even get as many viewers as BNI gets readers everyday, it isn’t a surprise.

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THR (h/t Ann L)  Al Jazeera America, which launched last August with nearly 850 employees and 12 news bureaus in the United States, has laid off dozens of employees as part of restructuring. The channel is disbanding its sports unit and scaling back its social-media-driven show The Stream from a daily show to a once-a-week program.

In a note to employees on Friday, the cable news channel’s president, Kate O’Brian, stated that staff reductions were part of a process of restructuring after initial hires were made for the launch.  “In the seven months since launch we have built a channel that it took other networks years to do,” O’Brian wrote. “As you know, that required extensive effort, planning and resources. We always understood we would need considerable resources to meet our goals.”

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“This will have an immediate impact on some staff, freelancers, independent contractors, and other project-oriented individuals who have been with us for several months,” O’Brian noted. 

The cable news channel, backed by the royal family of Qatar, replaced Current TV on the channel guide when it launched on Aug. 20 of last year. A significant investment, up to $600 million, was made in Al Jazeera America, sources told THR at the time.

In the months leading up to the channel’s launch, AJA boasted numerous high-profile journalist hires — including Soledad O’Brien, Ali Velshi, John SeigenthalerJoie Chen and Antonio Mora — and pledged to deliver substantive news to differentiate itself from cable news competitors. 

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As of December 2013, when the channel struck a carriage agreement with Time Warner Cable, Al Jazeera America was available in almost 55 million homes in the United States. 

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