×

Ehab Al Shihabi Out as Leader of Al Jazeera America

Confronted Monday with questions about a wrongful-termination lawsuit, defections of senior executives and meager ratings, Ehab Al Shihabi, the leader of Al Jazeera America said, “I know what I’m doing.” On Wednesday, the backers of the network said he would be replaced as head of the troubled cable-news outlet.

The Qatar-backed network said it would replace Al Shihabi, who has led Al Jazeera America since its 2013 launch, with Al Anstey, a veteran executive who has been serving as managing director of sister outlet Al Jazeera English.

“I am confident Al’s leadership will transform the channel’s ability to lead in the U.S. marketplace,” said Mostefa Souag, chairman of Al Jazeera America’s board of directors, in a prepared statement. “His demonstrated success leading Al Jazeera English and his passion for the Al Jazeera brand positions him with the unique ability to undertake the strategic changes needed for the success of the channel. I am extremely pleased at Al’s appointment.”

Al Shihabi’s ouster is the latest in a series of twists that threaten to derail what was supposed to be the launch of a more serious-minded news network. When Al Jazeera American debuted in 2013, it did so with a phalanx of prominent TV journalists from CNN and ABC, among other outlets, as well as a stated mission to pursue in-depth journalism about important issues and stories, rather than getting caught up in partisan debate or a desire to entertain.

Since that time, however, the network has not made much of a dent in the world of U.S. television. Its ratings are minuscule. Its advertising is mostly of the direct-response variety. A wrongful-termination lawsuit filed recently by a former employee charged executives at the network were making anti-Semitic remarks, and people familiar with its operations suggested Al Shihabi had taken a more hands-on role with editorial operations as its owner grew more concerned about the network’s finances. In recent months, Al Jazeera America scrapped a good deal of its original schedule in favor of more live, of-the-moment programming.

Earlier this week, Marcy McGinnis, a veteran of CBS News who originally joined Al Jazeera America in the summer of 2013 to be its senior vice president of newsgathering, announced her departure, saying in a memo that Al Shihabi would not tolerate people who did not agree with his vision for the network. In recent months, she had been identified as senior vice president of outreach amid speculation that her role at the network had been marginalized as Ehab Al Shihabi, chief executive of the U.S.-based network, took a greater interest in its editorial operations.

Al Jazeera made a splashy entry into the U.S. market with its $500 million purchase in late 2012 of of Current TV, the struggling cabler owned by former vice president Al Gore and other investors. The high price paid for Current was a sign of Al Jazeera’s determination to get a foothold in the U.S. market, part of the parent company’s goal of building a global newsgathering network.

 

More TV

  • craig-ferguson-join-or-die

    Craig Ferguson Game Show 'The Hustler' Gets Picked Up by ABC

    Comedian and host Craig Ferguson is returning to the airwaves with a new trivia game show series at ABC, “The Hustler,” in which one player will already secretly know all the answers. The format involves five contestants working together on a series of trivia questions, with the aim of growing and winning a collective prize [...]

  • Patrick Dempsey poses with his 'Excellence

    Patrick Dempsey, Alessandro Borghi Discuss Being Part of 'Devils'

    Patrick Dempsey (“Grey’s Anatomy”) and Italian actor Alessandro Borghi (“Suburra”), who co-star in the anticipated financial-world thriller series “Devils,” said the show pulled them into uncharted territories. A sign that the TV drama business is becoming increasingly global, “Devils” marks the first truly international drama for both actors. Although it shot in English, “Devils” was [...]

  • Foto conceitual de Aruanas, feita no

    Globo’s ‘Aruanas’: Estela Renner on a Female-Centric Amazon Thriller

    CANNES  — Do yourself a Netflix. On July 2, Brazilian media giant Globo launched Amazon.set thriller “Aruanas,” a single scripted series produced for OTT service Globoplay, in 150 countries worldwide using Vimeo-powered platform aruanas.tv. It offers  subtitles in 11 languages: English, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Dutch, Russian, Arabic, Hindi, Turkish and Korean. That global initiative reflects [...]

  • Snow White

    What's Coming to Disney Plus Starting in November

    Disney unveiled the complete list of films to premiere on its streaming service Disney Plus via a lengthy Twitter thread Monday. With its powerhouse catalog including Marvel, Pixar, Star Wars, and National Geographic properties, the full magnitude of the Disney empire will be seen once the streaming service launches. Along with Disney originals previously announced [...]

  • Anne Hathaway Modern Love

    Anne Hathaway Talks Mental Health Awareness, Playing a Bipolar Woman on Amazon's 'Modern Love'

    In Amazon Prime’s upcoming “Modern Love,” Anne Hathaway sheds light on an important facet of living with mental health issues, playing a bipolar woman who struggles with dating. “We’re all becoming more sensitive, wiser and more cognizant of gentility, and especially emotional gentility. I think those conversations are starting to happen. And I think the desire [...]

  • Sarah Silverman I Love You America

    Sarah Silverman Sets New HBO Comedy Special, Late-Night Series Pilot

    Sarah Silverman is headed to HBO. The comedian has signed a deal for a new comedy special with the premium cabler, with HBO also giving Silverman a pilot order for a late-night series. The news comes less than a year after Hulu canceled Silverman’s Emmy-nominated talk show “I Love You, America with Sarah Silverman” after [...]

  • Succession

    'Succession': Is Kendall a Killer Yet? Brian Cox Thinks So

    The Roys set sail aboard a refitted yacht in the Mediterranean in the Season 2 finale of ‘Succession’ Sunday, but it is hardly a vacation. Logan Roy (played by Brian Cox) gathers his family (including Gerri, among others) to figure out whose head would be put on a stake as Waystar Royco’s sacrificial lamb offering [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content