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DirecTV Hits Al Jazeera America With Lawsuit But Won’t (Heavily Redacted) Say Why

By | Friday July 11, 2014 @ 7:19pm PDT

DirecTV Hits Al Jazeera America With Lawsuit But Won’t (Heavily Redacted) Say WhyI can tell you that DirecTV today filed a breach of contract complaint against Al Jazeera America. I can tell you that the civil case complaint demands a 10-day jury trial and seeks more than $25,000 but also is looking for declaratory relief. Finally, I can tell you that the 17-page filing by the satellite service provider has something to do with the Affiliation Agreement that DirecTV entered into with AJAM predecessor Current TV back on July 13, 2005, just over two weeks before the channel co-owned by Al Gore debuted. Beyond that, and who the plaintiffs’ lawyers are, virtually everything else in the complaint (read it here) is redacted. DirecTV reps had no comment when I contacted them about the blacked-out filing. Al Jazeera America weren’t saying much either. “We have not reviewed the complaint and therefore have no comment,” an AJAM spokesperson told me today. A non-redacted version also has been filed in LA Superior but is under seal, I’ve learned.
directv lawsuit copy Could this complaint be something similar to when Time Warner Cable dropped Al Jazeera America from its service minutes al jazeera america logoafter the Qatar-owned news channel bought Current TV for $500 million back in January 2013. Saying it didn’t consent to the sale, TWC jettisoned AJAM. The new station launched on August 20 that year, and a few months later the two sides … Read More »

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Al Jazeera America To Air Docu On Low-Income Living In U.S. From Producers Of ‘Hoop Dreams’, ‘Life Itself,’ ‘New Americans,’ ‘Trials Of Muhammad Ali’

By | Thursday April 17, 2014 @ 12:20pm PDT

CNN isn’t the only cable news networkaljazeeralogo2 going in for documentary series. Al Jazeera America today announced its latest collaboration –  with Kartemquin Films on Hard Earned, a six-part documentary series exploring low-income life in America. Hard Earned is being executive produced by Kartemquin’s Steve James, Gordon Quinn, and Justine Nagan, who were responsible for Hoop Dreams, The Interrupters, The Trials of Muhammad Ali and recent Sundance hit Life Itself, among other documentaries.

Five stories, set in San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Milwaukee, and two in the Chicago area, will be intertwined into six one-hour episodes. The series will shed more light on an ever-growing sector of the American workforce. “Low wage jobs are the fastest growing sector of employment in the American economy,” says executive producer Steve James. Kartemquin’s previous multi-part series, The New Americans, a seven-hour series on immigration produced for PBS in 2004, was an International Documentary Association award-winner for Best Limited Series. Al Jazeera America is available in more than 51 million homes in the U.S. on Comcast, Time Warner Cable, DirecTV, Dish Network and Verizon FiOS.

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Al Jazeera America Slashes Staff But Says It’s All Part Of The Plan

By | Friday April 11, 2014 @ 11:01am PDT

Al Jazeera AmericaIt’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 sports news unit has been disbanded, and some layoffs are tied to a decision to cut The Stream to two days a week from five. Most of the people being let go are officially freelancers, although the group includes many who had been working full time. The official word is that the company needed lots of people for the launch last year. Al Jazeera America President Kate OBrian says in a memo to staff: “Now it is time to set our sights on new goals, requiring different levels and areas of investment and resources. We have reached what I will call our steady-state level of operations and we are bringing our staffing levels into alignment with our long-range plan as per our original business case. As a result, certain parts of our organization will expand or contract and staff levels and resources will be recalibrated.” She says that, after the cuts, the operation will have “more than 800 staff around the country.” Still, some people there speculate that the channel will shift its focus toward documentary pieces instead of live reports. It has struggled to attract viewers. For example, an internal memo notes that on March 21 the channel averaged 10,871 households (equal … Read More »

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TCA: Al Jazeera America Bails On Taking Questions From TV Critics For Second Time

By | Sunday January 12, 2014 @ 9:19am PST

Al Jazeera America has bailed on taking questions from TV critics at TV Press Tour for the second time. In fairness, the fledgling cable aja2network 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: Read More »

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Al Jazeera America Officially Launches Today On Time Warner Cable

By | Friday December 6, 2013 @ 7:49am PST

al-jazeera-america__130605200221-150x150Time Warner Cable made it official this morning:  Al Jazeera America, the Qatar-owned news channel that launched in the U.S. on  August 20, will be added to its lineup beginning — today. That bring to nearly 55 million the number of homes in which the channel will be available in the U.S. Throw your mind back to January 2 of this year, when Current TV CEO Joel Hyatt confirmed the sale of that network to Al Jazeera  in a memo to staffers.  Time Warner Cable would not consent to the sale, said Current would no longer be carried on TWC,  and that it was “removing the service as quickly as possible,” while promising it was “keeping an open mind.” The loss of the No. 2 cable operator cost Al Time Warner Cable logoJazeera America 12.2M video subscribers (Current reached about 59M homes). It wasn’t until October that the two parties reached a carriage agreement and TWC announced it would carry the network on its TWC and Bright House Networks systems. Back then,  TWC EVP Melinda Witmer explained,  “Now that the channel is live, we think that it would be of value to our customers and are pleased to make it available.”  So, starting today, Al Jazeera America is available via TWC in the country’s top two markets, New York and Los Angeles. In New York City, Al … Read More »

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Al Jazeera America Makes It Official: Ray Suarez To Host ‘Inside Story’

By | Monday November 4, 2013 @ 7:41am PST

Former PBS NewsHour national correspondent Ray Suarez has joined Al Jazeera America as host of its daily program Inside Story, the network made official this morning. Suarez’s first day is Monday, November 11. Suarez tweeted in October that he was leaving PBS after 14 years — most recently as NewsHour’s chief national correspondent, then told Fox News Latino he felt like he did not have “much of a future with the broadcast” because his contributions to the program had been minimized over the past couple years. Al Jazeera describes Inside Story as a program that “provides analysis, background and context on the top stories of the day” with a panel of guests debating domestic and international topics. “Ray’s extensive television and radio experience will be an incredible asset to Al Jazeera America and Inside Story’s viewers,”  Al Jazeera America President Kate O’Brian said in the announcement.

Suarez hosted National Public Radio’s Talk Of The Nation for six years before joining PBS. Suarez began his career as a Los Angeles correspondent for CNN, a producer for the ABC Radio Network in New York and a reporter for CBS Radio in Rome.

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Al Jazeera America Execs Vow To Add Jobs, Bureaus, And Programming

By | Tuesday October 29, 2013 @ 6:37am PDT

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.”

Related: Interim CEO: Al Jazeera America Name Is Not A Liability
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Time Warner Cable To Carry Al Jazeera America

By | Thursday October 24, 2013 @ 3:31am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

UPDATED: Time Warner Cable announced this morning that it has sealed a deal to carry Qatar-owned broadcaster Al Jazeera America on its TWC and Bright House Networks systems. TWC famously dropped Current TV minutes after its sale to Al Jazeera was announced in January but said at the time that it was “keeping an open mind.” ”We said in January that we would consider Al Jazeera America,” TWC EVP Melinda Witmer said today. “Now that the channel is live, we think that it would be of value to our customers and are pleased to make it available.”  The agreement will ultimately make the channel available to almost 55 million customers, starting with the top two markers, New York and Los Angeles.  In August, Al Jazeera sued AT&T for refusing to carry it.

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UPDATE: Al Jazeera Sues AT&T Over Contract Dispute As New Network Launches
By Lisa De Moraes – 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.

Fox Nabs Comedy From ‘30 Rock’s Matt Hubbard, Tina Fey & Robert Carlock And Universal TV With Series Commitment
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A Closer Look: Score One For CBS Today In Battle With Time Warner Cable
By Lisa De Moraes - CBS scored a decisive PR win in today’s round of its nearly three-week-and-counting battle with Time Warner Cable when it announced it had reached a swift and amicable retransmission deal with Verizon FiOS that covers New York, Los Angeles and Dallas — markets in which CBS is now … Read More »

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UPDATE: Al Jazeera Sues AT&T Over Contract Dispute As New Network Launches

By | Tuesday August 20, 2013 @ 6:47pm PDT

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. Read More »

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Al Jazeera America’s Interim CEO Insists New Network Name Not A Liability

By | Thursday August 15, 2013 @ 2:39pm PDT

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.” Read More »

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Al Jazeera America Unveils Primetime Schedule

By | Wednesday August 14, 2013 @ 10:02am PDT

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: Read More »

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Al Jazeera Hires Michael Okwu And Sarah Hoye For ‘America Tonight’

By | Tuesday August 13, 2013 @ 9:07am PDT

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 Angeles with NBC News where he appeared regularly on the Today Show, NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams and MSNBC; he began his career at CNN as a regular on the prime time news mag CNN Newsstand and a reporter at the United Nations. Hoye, at CNN, served as a correspondent in Philadelphia. Okwu and Hoye join the four previously announced America Tonight correspondents – Sheila MacVicar, Adam May, Lori Jane Gilha, Christof Putzel – and Special Correspondent Soledad O’Brien.

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David Shuster Joins Al Jazeera America As NY Anchor

By | Friday August 9, 2013 @ 6:11am PDT

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.

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NBC Alum John Seigenthaler To Anchor Al Jazeera America’s Evening Newscast

By | Thursday August 8, 2013 @ 11:09am PDT

Al Jazeera America finally announced an anchor for its evening newscast, which is scheduled to launch in just two weeks. Former NBC News anchor John Seigenthaler will anchor the flagship show when the network launches on August 20, it announced this morning. Seigenthaler, who spent more than 11 years at NBC News, anchored the weekend edition of its Nightly News for about nine of them. Seigenthaler was reported to have been one of the victims of NBCU 2.0 slash-and-burn policy announced in fall of ’06 by then NBCUniversal television group CEO Jeff Zucker – now running things over at CNN. That plan involved the cutting of about 700 jobs. In April of ’07 Seigenthaler announced on the air that it was his last time at the anchor desk and he was out. Since ’08, Seigenthaler’s been the CEO of Seigenthaler Public Relations-NY.

AJA has been unveiling its staff and operations in dribs and drabs in the days walking up to its scheduled launch. In recent days, it has announced former CNN anchor Joie Chen will host a nightly news magazine show, staffing for its documentary and sports units, and the opening of 12 domestic bureaus, among other things.

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Al Jazeera America Names Sports, Docu Unit Execs

By | Tuesday August 6, 2013 @ 9:48am PDT

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 network as head of its in-house documentary film unit, and that Neal Scarbrough and Jeff Green will lead its sports unit. Davidov most recently was exec vp of production for National Geographic Television, where she provided creative guidance for all content, including Explorer, and Border Wars; she also served as an exec producer at TLC, where she helmed such shows as Trading Spaces. She’ll be joined by Cynthia Kane who’s been named senior producer of the docu unit, coming from ITVS, after a stint in programming and acquisitions at Sundance Channel where she co-created “Doc Day”.

Over in sports, meanwhile, Scarbrough has been named senior exec producer, and Green is exec producer. Scarbrough joins Al Jazeera America from Comcast where he’d been vp of digital media for the Versus Sports Network (now NBC Sports Network) before moving over into corporate communications.  He also ran the sports division at AOL and was an editor-in-chief at ESPN.com. Green was supervising producer of special events at Current TV – the network AJA is replacing. He also played a role in the launch of Yankees Entertainment and Sports network.

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Al Jazeera America Hires Former CNN, Bloomberg Business News Reporters

By | Monday August 5, 2013 @ 8:29am PDT

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 Geraldino, and Stacey Tisdale have been named correspondents for its Real Money With Ali Velshi financial program. They will also provide live business news coverage throughout the day. Sabga previously worked as senior business editor and chief business news anchor for CNN Headline News, reporting live from the New York Stock Exchange. Geraldino, a former Wall Street corporate finance analyst, has contributed reports to Bloomberg TV and the CBS Affiliate News Service. Tisdale is a former financial correspondent for PBS’s Need To Know who also reported for various CNN channels and for various CBS News platforms.

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Al Jazeera America Opens 12 US Bureaus

By | Tuesday July 30, 2013 @ 11:29am PDT

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 based, AJAM will have correspondents in Dallas, Denver, LA, Nashville, Miami, Seattle, San Francisco, New Orleans, Detroit, Chicago and Washington D.C. “It is critical for Al Jazeera America to have bureaus strategically placed throughout the U.S. so that we can cover the news from wherever it happens,” said Al Jazeera America’s SVP of Newsgathering Marcy McGinnis in a statement today. Among the hires, former NBC News national correspondent Jennifer London will be AJAM’s reporter in LA and former C-SPAN Washington Journal host Libby Casey will hold down the fort in the nation’s capitol. Last week AJAM said that former CNNer Joie Chen would be added to its growing on-air staff to anchor its America Tonight primetime show. Former Good Morning America correspondent and sub host Antonio Mora was also recently announced as joining AJAM to helm the primetime Consider This talk show. Al Jazeera America is set to premiere on August 20.

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Joie Chen Moves To Al Jazeera America To Host Nightly News Magazine Show

By | Wednesday July 24, 2013 @ 6:34am PDT

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.”

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