The ratings-troubled television network Al Jazeera America burst onto the scene last August with a seemingly limitless budget, scooping up correspondents for the channel’s 12 bureaus nationwide.
In January, Al Jazeera America president Kate O’Brian assured staffers that the network was on it way to being the “envy of the industry.” But after hiring more than 800 people and still being unable to garner a competitive audience, Al Jazeera America reportedly announced a wave of layoffs Friday.
“We are bringing our staffing levels into alignment with our long-range plan as per our original business case,” read a memo from O’Brian, according to Business Insider. “As a result, certain parts of our organization will expand or contract and staff levels and resources will be recalibrated.”
The memo continues to announce the “immediate impact” the changes will have on some employees:
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. Those that are effected have been sent a note with information on meeting their supervisors and HR representatives later today. These colleagues have provided a valuable service to us for which we are deeply grateful.
On behalf of the entire senior management team, I’d like to thank our departing staff and freelancers for all the work they did to get AJAM up and running.
The Hollywood Reporter said “dozens” will be laid off, primarily because the network 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.” However, the details of the downsizing have not been confirmed.
Time Warner Cable began carrying Al Jazeera America in October, boosting the network’s availability to about 55 million homes, up from 44 million.
Financial terms of the deal between Time Warner and Qatar-owned Al Jazeera America were not disclosed, but the New York Times reported that Al Jazeera may actually pay Time Warner for marketing and advertising sales support.
Despite its increased availability, Al Jazeera America has still struggled with extremely low ratings.