Al Jazeera America to close by April 30 – network

Al Jazeera America, the cable television news outlet owned by the Qatari government, says it is shutting down less than three years after its high-profile launch. Mana Rabiee reports.

(Reuters) – There was SUCH excitement when Al Jazeera America launched in 2013…. pledging to deliver hard-hitting journalism from the U.S., coast-to-coast.

But just two and a half years after its high-profile launch — and many hundreds of millions of dollars later — the channel’s parent company says it’s shutting down its U.S. operations by the end of April, citing economic challenges in the American media market.

Al Jazeera bought Al Gore’s Current TV in January of 2013 for $500 million to compete with U.S. networks like CNN, MSNBC and Fox News.

But it always faced an uphill battle to build a loyal U.S. audience, given it was under the patronage of the Qatar government.

The network almost immediately hit challenges …. as cable distributors like Time Warner Cable and AT&T argued they had contracted with Current TV — not Al Jazeera.

The company says it’ll now expand, instead, its existing international digital services in the U.S. — as consumers ditch traditional media outlets and move to smart-phones and tablets for more and more of their news.