Al Jazeera America launched with the noble mission of providing in-depth news to a cable populace inundated with fast bits of information and a surfeit of talking heads, but putting transforming its goals into practice is proving more difficult.
The network has canceled its morning program as well as “Consider This With Antonio Mora,” a late-morning program, and is considering other changes to its programming, according to a person familiar with the network. The New York Post reported earlier Monday that Al Jazeera America was likely to give some of its primetime anchors like Ali Velshi and Joie Chen less airtime and also eliminate other programming in the mid-to-late afternoon.
“We are always looking at our scheduling calendar in order to offer our audience the most compelling news hours and programs,” the network said in a statement. “Increasingly, we’re finding that viewers are coming us for in-depth reporting and analysis of domestic and global news events, and our goal is to offer that around the clock.”
Representatives declined to comment on the Post’s report that it was using a feed of its sibling network Al Jazeera English to plug holes in the schedule.
The programming shifts are the latest signal of the uphill battle the network, backed by the government of Qatar, has faced in trying to establish a presence in U.S. television. Al Jazeera purchased Current, a nascent cable-news network owned partly by Al Gore, in 2013, and initially made headlines as it wooed big-name talent like Velshi, Chen and ABC News’ Kate O’Brian to its fold.
In the months since the network’s launch in August of that year, it has continued to cut freelancers and staffers, and advertising has not seemed to flow to the network in abundance, even as it made distribution strides by coming to a carriage agreement with Time Warner Cable. There has been speculation that the network’s ownership and coverage by sibling networks overseas may give potential sponsors pause.