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TCA: Al Jazeera America Finally Shows Up At The Tour To Talk About Immersive News But Not Ratings

By | Tuesday July 8, 2014 @ 4:13pm PDT

TCA: Al Jazeera America Finally Shows Up At The Tour To Talk About Immersive News But Not RatingsAl Jazeera America finally came to TCA Press Tour, after previously backing out twice, to take questions from the media. The session was long on sales pitch, short on substance – and even shorter on questions. Numbers were scarce — AJAM panelists noted the network is on track to reach 59 million households, has al jazeera america logoaccess to more than 80 bureaus worldwide, etc. – but no mention was made that the network currently is averaging just 15,000 viewers in primetime and about 5,000 in the news demo. AJAM President Kate O’Brian said ratings were going in the right direction — up — though Nielsen records show AJAM averaged about 21,000 viewers in September.
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Al Jazeera Reacts To Sentencing Of Three Journalists By Egyptian Court

By | Monday June 23, 2014 @ 7:24am PDT

Al Jazeera Reacts To Sentencing Of Three Journalists By Egyptian CourtToday’s sentencing of two Al Jazeera English journalists to seven years in jail, and another to 10 years, defies “logic, sense, and any semblance of justice,” Al Anstey, Al Jazeera English managing director,  said.  An Egyptian court sentenced the three journalists on charges including aiding the Muslim Brotherhood and reporting false news.

“Today three colleagues and friends were sentenced, and will continue to be kept behind bars for doing a brilliant job of being great journalists –  ‘Guilty’ of covering stories with great skill and integrity. ‘Guilty’ of defending people’s right to know what is going on in their world,” Anstey said in a statement. Read More »

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UPDATE: Al Jazeera Suing Egypt Over Government Crackdown

By | Friday September 13, 2013 @ 1:40pm PDT

UPDATE, 2:33 PM: Al Jazeera says it has been facing the wrath of Egypt’s military government since President Mohammed Morsi was ousted last month. Now it’s fighting back — in the courts. The Qatar-based TV network says it is making legal moves in international courts against the Egyptian government for jailing its journalists, jamming its signals and shutting down its offices. An Egyptian court this month ordered Al Jazeera’s Cairo office to stop broadcasting, claiming it was jeopardizing national security by, among other things, airing Muslim Brotherhood protests. The network said in a statement that Egypt’s new regime is out to silence Al Jazeera and urged the UN to “ensure that freedom of expression and freedom of the press do not die in Egypt.”

PREVIOUS UPDATE, 3:58 PM: An Al Jazeera staffer told Reuters that at least five of his colleagues at the Mubasher Misr channel were arrested at the studio. The station was prevented from broadcasting from a pro-Mursi rally, and its crew there also was detained, Karim El-Assiuti said.
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Global Showbiz Briefs: LoveFilm Brings ‘Copper’ To UK Via Stream; Andrea Iervolino, Monika Bacardi Launch AMBI Pictures; More

By | Monday September 9, 2013 @ 9:55pm PDT

‘Copper’ Will Make UK Debut Streaming On LoveFilm
LoveFilm has acquired UK rights to Cineflix series Copper. The series follows Vikings as the second to debut in the UK exclusively via the streaming service, bypassing traditional broadcasters. Netflix competitor LoveFilm will make the show available for streaming starting Friday. Tom Weston-Jones, Kyle Schmid and Anastasia Griffith star in the period police drama co-created by Tom Fontana and Will Rokos. Copper airs on BBC America in the U.S. Read More »

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Al Jazeera America Unveils First Four News Anchors

By | Thursday July 11, 2013 @ 7:23am PDT

Al Jazeera America today announced its first four news anchors, including Richelle Carey, former weekday anchor for CNN’s HLN. Carey will join Jonathan Betz, Morgan Fogarty and Del Walters presenting live news throughout the day from Al Jazeera America’s studio in New York City. Betz is a former field reporter and fill-in anchor at the ABC affiliate station in Dallas. Fogarty was the main 10 PM anchor at the CW affiliate in Charlotte, NC. Walters spent more than two decades as an anchor at the ABC affiliate in Washington, D.C. Back in January, Al Jazeera coughed up a reported $500 million to buy Al Gore’s little-watched Current TV and replace it with Al Jazeera America, which is scheduled to launch next month, funded by the government of Qatar.

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Al Gore Wins Temporary Reprieve In Suit Alleging He Stole Idea To Sell Current TV

It’s the possible beginning of the end for a media consultant’s lawsuit against Al Gore and Current TV. John Terenzio wants $5M from his suit alleging that he was instrumental in Current’s $500M sale to Al Jazeera earlier this year — and that the former VP and his cable channel squeezed him out of the deal. But on Tuesday Superior Court Judge Ernest Goldsmith in San Francisco dismissed the defendants’ demurrer motion, finding that Terenzio failed to offer enough facts to establish “personal liability” on Gore’s part. The judge has given Terenzio 10 days to amend his complaint with new info. The case has moved relatively quickly since it was first filed in the spring. The plaintiff argued that Gore initially opposed Terenzio’s proposal to cut a deal with the news service backed by the government of Qatar, but ended up with an agreement that was virtually identical to the one he recommended. The new owner plans to use the asset to launch the new Al Jazeera America channel later this summer.  

Related: Al Gore Squares Off Over Sale Of Current TV To Al Jazeera

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Al Jazeera America Confirms Soledad O’Brien Deal

Al Jazeera America confirmed this morning it had signed a deal with former CNN star Soledad O’Brien to contribute to the network as “special correspondent.” O’Brien’s production company, Starfish Media Group will produce hourlong documentary specials for the cable network. “I look forward to beginning a relationship with Al Jazeera America, which has made a commitment to producing quality programming and pursuing underreported stories,” O’Brien said in the announcement, confirming speculation that started last week. As a correspondent, O’Brien will contribute short-form segments to the primetime current affairs mag America Tonight on the new network, which is funded by the government of Qatar.

O’Brien stepped down from CNN in March when network chief Jeff Zucker scrubbed her program Starting Point; he gave the time slot to Chris Cuomo’s New Day. At the time she left CNN, she formed Starfish Media, which, in addition to the production deal with Al Jazeera America, now also has a production deal with CNN, and development deals at HBO and National Geographic Channel. Read More »

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Al Gore Squares Off With Walt Mossberg On Sale Of Current TV To Al Jazeera

By | Sunday March 10, 2013 @ 1:09pm PDT

Things got a little too warm when Al Gore took to the stage at the SXSW Interactive festival Saturday to talk about The Future — that is, his new book subtitled Six Drivers Of Global Change as well as the NRA, the internet and global warming, natch. AllThingsD editor Walt Mossberg took the opportunity to call the former VP on an inconvenient truth — not his movie, the hypocrisy of his sale of Current TV to Al Jazeera. “You sold your network to Al Jazeera, which is owned by a government that’s a big oil producer,” asked Mossberg. “How could you do that?” Gore eventually responded “I don’t ask you why you continue working for Rupert Murdoch.” Uh-oh. Mossberg parried, “Last I checked, he’s not in the oil business”. Gore retorted, “He’s also not strictly in the news business, either”.

Related: Keith Olbermann Slams Current TV Again

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Global Showbiz Briefs: Epic Pictures, Oz Thriller ‘Backtrack’, AFP-Al Jazeera Deal

By | Wednesday March 6, 2013 @ 10:52pm PST

John Short Joins Epic Pictures Group As VP Foreign Sales
John Short has been named VP international sales for Patrick Ewald and Shaked Berenson’s Epic Pictures Group. Ewald and Berenson will focus on focus on the company’s original productions, while Short will oversee day-to-day operations for foreign sales. Short is introducing Epic’s slate at the upcoming Filmart in Hong Kong March 18-21 and will attend the Cannes Market May 16-25. Epic’s Big Ass Spider! premieres March 11 at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas. Ewald and Berenson financed and produced the pic directed by Mike Mendez and starring Greg Grunberg. Read More »

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Sarah Palin Skewers Washington Post For Falling For Fake Al Jazeera TV Story

By | Tuesday February 12, 2013 @ 3:39pm PST

Despite leaving Fox News last month, Sarah Palin is not joining Al Jazeera America as a talking head. She is, however ,certainly mocking a Washington Post report today incorrectly claiming she was. “Hey @washingtonpost, I’m having coffee with Elvis this week. He works at the Mocha Moose in Wasilla. #suziparkerscoops #idiotmedia,” the former GOP VP candidate wrote on Twitter today. Earlier in the day, the Post ran a seemingly unbelievable story by blogger Suzy Parker on its website saying Palin was heading to the new U.S. version of the Qatar-based network. Parker’s story cited a February 4 report on the Daily Currant as its source for Palin’s new gig. The story quoted the conservative former Alaska Governor as saying Al Jazeera “told me they reach millions of devoutly religious people who don’t watch CBS or CNN. That tells me they don’t have a liberal bias.” However, what the Post didn’t realize was the Currant is a news parody website and the original story was meant to be funny and not at all factual. Read More »

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Al Gore Denies Hypocrisy In Current TV Sale To Al Jazeera: Video

By | Tuesday January 29, 2013 @ 2:10pm PST

Al Gore defended his sale of Current TV to Al Jazeera in an appearance this morning on Today, saying he was forced to sell because of tough competition from conglomerates. He also denied any hypocrisy in the $500 million sale to Qatar-based Al Jazeera, which is funded in large part with oil money. Gore, a staunch advocate for addressing climate change, told Matt Lauer he understood the criticism, but said Al Jazeera’s climate coverage was far superior to that of networks in the U.S. Gore, who made a reported $100M on the deal, was appearing on the NBC morning show to tout his new book The Future but got some hardball questions from Lauer along the way. Check out the video below:

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Deadline Big Media With David Lieberman, Episode 17

By | Friday January 4, 2013 @ 4:52pm PST

Here’s episode 17 of our audio podcast Deadline Big Media With David Lieberman. This week, Deadline Executive Editor Lieberman and host David Bloom discuss the impacts of an important tax provision for Hollywood passed as part of this week’s fiscal cliff bill; what happens with Al Jazeera’s purchase of Current TV, especially after Time-Warner Cable dropped the channel; and a look at some of the big trends at next week’s Consumer Electronics Show, which Lieberman will be covering and for which he’ll host a panel on streaming TV.

Deadline Big Media Episode 17 (MP3 format)
Deadline Big Media Episode 17 (MP4A format) Read More »

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Al Jazeera Paid $500M For Current TV: Bloomberg

By | Thursday January 3, 2013 @ 6:42pm PST

Al JazeeraCurrent TV was sold to Al Jazeera for about $500 million, two people with knowledge of the deal told Bloomberg. Gore and partners paid about $71 million in 2004 for the channel that became Current TV. Gore, chairman, and Joel Hyatt, co-founder and CEO announced the sale Wednesday without providing terms. The deal gives Qatar-based Al Jazeera access to the biggest U.S. pay-TV carriers but Current’s viewership needs to increase significantly. Current averaged about 42,000 nightly primetime viewers last quarter, according to Horizon Media Inc. SNL Kagan cable analyst Derek Baine said the $500M price “sounds high”. Current TV’s owners had raised a total of $153 million including debt, according to NY-based research firm PrivCo.

Related: Will Time Warner Cable Carry Al Jazeera America?

Separately, former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm said yesterday on Facebook she will be leaving Current when her contract is up. Granholm, a Democrat who served two terms, said her agreement covered the election through the transition period and she plans to pursue other interests.

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Will Time Warner Cable Carry Al Jazeera America? It Depends

By | Thursday January 3, 2013 @ 2:58pm PST

All eyes will be on the No. 2 cable company’s response to the channel that Al Jazeera plans to create from what’s left of Current TV: It could determine whether the Qatar-based news company’s surprising deal yesterday to buy Al Gore’s cable channel pays off. It certainly won’t if Al Jazeera America is just available in a little more than 40M homes — which is what Current has without Time Warner Cable‘s 12.1M subscribers. For now, TWC says that it’s “keeping an open mind” about Al Jazeera’s plans. That at least sounds more encouraging than TWC’s statement yesterday that its carriage agreement with Current “has been terminated” and it is “removing the service as quickly as possible” from its systems. The change of ownership was a bridge too far for TWC: It was already considering dropping Current due to its low ratings.

Related: Time Warner Cable Considers Axing Additional Channels After Dropping Ovation

Al Jazeera presents other complications. TWC has a long-term so-called “hunting license” for the news operation’s English-language service — meaning that the cable company has an agreement that enables it to offer Al Jazeera English in some markets but not others. But the relationship has been cool. TWC execs didn’t appreciate the way Al Jazeera English two … Read More »

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UPDATE: Al Jazeera Buys Current TV, But It Won’t Be On Time Warner Cable

UPDATE, 4 PM: Current TV CEO Joel Hyatt just confirmed the sale in a memo to staffers. “Getting this transaction done was very difficult,” he writes. (Read the network’s official statement after the original break of the story.) Since Time Warner Cable would not consent to the sale “Current will no longer be carried on TWC. This is unfortunate, but I am confident that Al Jazeera America will earn significant additional carriage in the months and years ahead.” Time Warner Cable says that it is “removing the service as quickly as possible.” The loss of the No. 2 cable operator will hurt: Time Warner Cable has 12.2M video subscribers and Current reaches about 59M homes. Others also could follow Time Warner Cable’s lead as they look to prune their often bloated channel lineups. Al Jazeera has fought an uphill battle to win carriage on U.S. cable systems. Operators say it’s too expensive, and that there’s too little interest in the subjects it covers. Fans of the channel say it’s due to unreasonable fears that Al Jazeera’s content will be too controversial and possibly propagandistic. Al Jazeera fought back, and further infuriated cable execs, by live-streaming its English-language programming. Read More »

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