It’s a dreary day at the cable news channel as it files an undisclosed number of employees — I’m hearing at least 60 –into the New Yorker Hotel in Manhattan to tell them that they’ve lost their jobs. The …
Al Jazeera America has bailed on taking questions from TV critics at TV Press Tour for the second time. In fairness, the fledgling cable network did provide breakfast for the critics this morning at Winter TV Press Tour 2014, per its original arrangement with the group that organizes the cable-TV days of each tour. But no AJA execs or talent were around, to take questions from the critics. Al Jazeera America also had cancelled, at the 11th hour, on its scheduled Q&A session at Summer TV Press Tour 2013.
Fortunately, most of what were sure to be the critics’ more pressing questions this morning got recently asked of AJA’s primetime news anchor/former NBC News anchor John Segenthaler just days earlier, by Stephen Colbert on The Colbert Report:
The commitment came in a note to staffers this morning from Interim CEO Ehab Al Shihabi and President Kate O’Brian that spoke broadly about their goals for the next year. Since the news channel launched in August, “the critical acclaim, increased distribution and online interest in Al Jazeera America’s unbiased, objective and in-depth coverage of the news has convinced us that we should fast-track our plans to meet the projected increased demand,” they said. The pair added that they will add to the 12 bureaus Al Jazeera America already has in the U.S., though they didn’t provide a number. The execs promised to introduce “a new morning news program, a new weekly sports program, a new weekly culture show and multiple new documentary series” while they committed to “a renewed emphasis on investigative reporting.” That will result in additional jobs for “creative and business staffers to support both [AJA's] television and digital platforms.”
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2ND UPDATE, 6:45 PM: Al Jazeera America has released a statement about its lawsuit (read here) against AT&T: “Al Jazeera America made a decision to seek judicial intervention in its dispute with AT&T,” the network said. “Unfortunately AT&T’s decision to unilaterally delete Al Jazeera America presented us with circumstances that were untenable — an affiliate that has willfully and knowingly breached its contractual obligations. Accordingly, we had no choice but to take this action and to enforce Al Jazeera America’s rights under its agreement with AT&T — and to compel AT&T to do the right thing. Al Jazeera America’s strong hope is to resolve this matter quickly so that AT&T’s customers will have access to our unbiased, fact-based and in depth coverage of the news that is important to Americans.”
UPDATE, 5:45 PM: Al Jazeera has sued AT&T for refusing to carry the Qatar-based company’s new Al Jazeera America as part of its pay TV service, claiming AT&T is violating a deal it had with Al Jazeera’s U.S. division, according to a filing in Delaware Chancery Court. AT&T officials’ decision amounts to a “wrongful termination of an affiliation agreement,” Al Jazeera said in the filing, which accompanied a sealed complaint, Bloomberg reported late this afternoon. Details on the case came from a cover sheet that contained a brief description of the network’s claims, Bloomberg reported.
Launching Al Jazeera America is “frankly less challenging than people might think” network president Kate O’Brian insisted this afternoon. “The American viewer is looking for a particular set of things they just cannot find in the market place…unbiased news of quality and depth,” the well-respected ABC News veteran told reporters on a phone conference call walking up to Tuesday afternoon’s launch. “We really see that we are going to be fulfilling a need that the American viewer has,” she insisted. The network has opened a dozen domestic bureaus, hired hundreds of staffers, and, begun sending nearly daily announcements of program plans and hires of well-known talent, in the exec suites and on-air, including former CNN star Soledad O’Brien, former CBS News regulars Joie Chen and Sheila MacVicar, and former NBC News anchor John Seigenthaler, who will anchor the new network’s evening newscast. O’Brian said they’ve tried hard to staff the network’s 12 domestic bureaus with journalists from the area, as part of an effort to give “voice to the voiceless” by reporting stories not traditionally covered by national media from regions not traditionally spotlighted. “To do that best way is to hire someone who knows these stories. It’s very important for us to have some home grown coverage of different parts of the United States.”
Asked if the network would have covered the protests in Egypt this week, had it launched, O’Brian reiterated the network’s marching orders are not to cover U.S. only but “to cover news that is important to America,” adding, “The Middle East is extremely important to people in the U.S.”
Al Jazeera America this morning officially unveiled its early prime and primetime schedule in advance of its August 20 premiere. The network said this schedule “will continue to be updated and enhanced” as it “moves into new phases in its development,” having already announced some documentary series in the works, and a weekly sports show. When Al Jazeera America launches, viewers will receive more than 14 hours of daily live news, magazine, and discussion programs daily, with news updates at the top of every hour 24/7/365. Click over for today’s announcement and schedule details:
Former NBC correspondent Michael Okwu and former CNN journalist Sarah Hoye have been named new correspondents for Al Jazeera America’s daily Joie Chen-hosted primetime news and current affairs mag, America Tonight. Okwu spent five years in Los …
NEW YORK – (August 9, 2013) – Al Jazeera America, the new American news channel that will launch on Aug. 20, today announced that former MSNBC journalist David Shuster will join Al Jazeera America as one of the channel’s New York anchors.
“From breaking news to in depth reports, David has exactly the kind of experience we want to bring to all of our broadcasts,” said Marcy McGinnis, Al Jazeera America’s senior vice-president, newsgathering. “David will be an integral member of our New York reporting team when we launch later this month.”
Shuster was most recently was a correspondent at Current TV, where he led the channel’s coverage of 2012 presidential primaries, conventions, debates and election.
Less than two weeks before its scheduled launch, and days after bailing on a scheduled appearance before a couple hundred journalists to take questions at Summer TV Press Tour 2013, Al Jazeera America announced Kathy Davidov had joined the…
A couple weeks before its August 20 debut, and just days after its cancelled appearance at Summer TV Press Tour 2013 to take questions from The Reporters Who Cover Television, Al Jazeera America announced Patricia Sabga, Duarte …
Just over three weeks before its debut, Al Jazeera America today announced that it is going to have an on-the-ground presence in 12 US cities. Along with a bureau in NYC, where the news network will be …
NEW YORK – (July 24, 2013) – Al Jazeera America, the new American news channel that will launch on August 20, today announced that Emmy Award-winning journalist Joie Chen will host America Tonight, the channel’s daily primetime news and current affairs magazine program.
“Joie is a strong journalist with a natural, warm presence on screen and we’re excited to see her at the heart of our primetime schedule,” said Paul Eedle, Al Jazeera America’s deputy launch manager in charge of programs. “Joie will be a leading member of a wonderful array of anchor and reporter talent at Al Jazeera America reflecting the full diversity of this country today.”
In addition to the news about Ehab Al Shihabi, the soon-to-launch network says that Kate O’Brian, formerly of ABC News, will be president. ABC News President Ben Sherwood lauded O’Brian’s “insights, judgment and humor.” Here’s the Al Jazeera America release, followed by Sherwood’s comments:
New York (July 22, 2013) – The Acting Director General of Al Jazeera Media Network, Dr. Mostefa Souag, announced today that Ehab Al Shihabi, executive director for international operations, has been named (till further notice) as an interim chief executive officer of Al Jazeera America, and ABC News veteran Kate O’Brian has been named its president. Dr. Souag also announced that the groundbreaking American news channel is scheduled to launch on August 20, 2013.
In addition, David Doss has been named senior vice president for news programming; Marcy McGinnis has been appointed senior vice-president, newsgathering; and Shannon High-Bassalik will serve as senior vice-president, documentaries and programs.
Al Shihabi, one of the network’s leading American senior executives, has effectively participated in and been in charge of developing Al Jazeera America. Al Jazeera America will be headquartered in New York City and have 12 bureaus in key cities around the U.S.
Al Jazeera America continues to bolster its staff ahead of its U.S. launch next month. The news channel has hired Sheila MacVicar as a correspondent for its daily primetime current affairs magazine program America Tonight covering the …