×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Al Jazeera America Comes into Focus

Org commits to bringing on 700 staffers, opening 12 bureaus around the country

Here comes Al Jazeera America. The nascent all-news cabler has recruited CNN vet Ali Velshi (pictured above) as its first major on-air name since its parent company struck a $500 million deal to acquire Current TV in January.

(From the pages of the April 9 issue of Variety.)

There are many more hires to come. The deep-pocketed Al Jazeera org has committed to bringing on 700 staffers and opening 12 bureaus around the country, as well as a Gotham headquarters, to support the launch of its English-lingo net. Among the industryites onboard is Tony Fox, a longtime Viacom PR exec, who is serving as a consultant.

The timing of Al Jazeera America’s debut is still in flux, given all the behind-the-scenes activity, but the goal is to launch this year. The new regime is in the process of winding down Current TV’s programming and talent commitments.

Velshi, formerly CNN’s chief business correspondent, will develop a half-hour business news program for the channel. The show will bow in a weekly format and expand to five nights a week by year’s end.

The talent roster at Al Jazeera America will be key in helping to change the perception of those domestic viewers who associate the Al Jazeera moniker with coverage of terrorist attacks against the West — an image Al Jazeera has been able to overcome in the U.K. and Europe.

“Al Jazeera America will be bringing respected, independent reporting to its viewers, and that’s exactly the type of coverage Ali Velshi is known for,” said Ehab Al Shihabi, executive director of Al Jazeera’s international operations. “As is the case with Ali, all Al Jazeera America reporters will be fiercely objective, substantively strong, and absolutely committed to the truth.”

More Biz

  • State of Pride Full

    How Hollywood Is (and Isn't) Getting Better at LGBTQ Inclusion

    Brandon Flynn, one of the breakout actors from Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why,” has spent the last two years fielding questions about his personal life. In 2017, he wrote a passionate post on Instagram, advocating for an Australian vote that allowed for same-sex marriage. Soon enough, news sites such as HuffPost and E! News were reporting [...]

  • Former movie producer Harvey Weinstein (L)

    Harvey Weinstein Reneged on Payoff to HR Director, Suit Claims

    The former Human Resources director of the Weinstein Co. filed a lawsuit on Tuesday, claiming he never received a $450,000 payout he was promised in the wake of the New York Times’ expose in October 2017. Frank Gil alleges that Weinstein promised him the money on Oct. 6, the day after the Times’ story ran. [...]

  • Plume of black smoke rising from

    Attorney for Universal Music Artists Impacted by 2008 Fire Requests Inventory

    Following on its statements last week that it will be filing a lawsuit on behalf of several Universal Music recording artists impacted by a 2008 fire that destroyed a huge number of master recordings, a Los Angeles law firm has requested a “complete inventory” from the company. Addressed to UMG CEO and chairman Lucian Grainge, [...]

  • Charles Caldas To Step Down as

    Charles Caldas To Step Down as Merlin CEO

    Charles Caldas, the only CEO that the independent-label collective Merlin has ever known, announced today that he will step down from his post at the end of 2019, after more than 12 years at the helm of the global rights organization. He will continue his current duties until then and work with the Merlin board to [...]

  • Merlin Reports Record Distributions for 2019

    Merlin Reports Record Distributions for 2019

    Global indie-label collective Merlin reported record distributions in its 2019 membership report, paying $845 million to label and distributor members between April 2018 and March of this year. That figure, a 63% year-over-year increase, includes more than $130 million paid out this year from non-royalty income — and included in that figure is the estimated [...]

  • Dwyane Wade on Supporting His Son

    NBA Star Dwyane Wade on Supporting His Son's Attendance at Miami Pride

    NBA star Dwyane Wade spoke to Variety about why it was important for him to support his younger son attending a pride parade last spring. In April, Wade’s then 11-year-old son Zion posted pictures of himself at Miami Pride, with his siblings and stepmother Gabrielle Union. Wade, who was on the road with the Miami [...]

  • Songs for Screens Powered by Mac

    Songs for Screens: How Eric Church Teamed With Ram Trucks — and Five Tons of Vinyl — for ‘Solid’ Campaign

    Country star Eric Church has long used his new music to reward his loyal fans, from surprise releasing 2015’s “Mr. Misunderstood” album as a direct fan-club exclusive to impromptu meet-and-greets before his hometown show in Greensboro, North Carolina. So when Church was prepping the April vinyl release of 2018’s critically acclaimed “Desperate Man,” the singer [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content