A few months ago I viewed with alarm the huge investment made by Qatar in setting up Al Jazeera America:
Presently available in only about 40 million US households — some cable companies, like Time-Warner Cable, decided that it wasn’t in their best interest to support the network that brought us Bin Laden’s taped threats — AJA has fancy studios (including one in the Newseum in DC, not far from the White House), a plush headquarters in New York and 12 US bureaus. It is working to get more cable outlets.
… the 24-hour channel will provide 14 hours of news, with only 6 minutes of commercials per hour (US cable channels have 15 minutes). It plans to do longer, in-depth stories on all kinds of national and international issues. You can bet that it will have a slant significantly different from that of Fox News, or even CNN or MSNBC.
AJA has hired some 800 to 1000 employees (sources vary), including big names like Soledad O’Brien, John Seigenthaler, Ali Velshi, Antonio Mora, Michael Viqueira, Joie Chen, Sheila MacVicar and others. Its president will be former ABC executive Kate O’Brian.
AJA is pushing hard to get into more households, placing ads in print and broadcast media asking potential viewers to contact their cable providers. Even NPR is running them.
The US offshoot of the Mideast news outfit managed fewer than half of the viewers who tuned in to its predecessor, Al Gore’s Current TV.
Al Jazeera America has averaged just 13,000 viewers a day since its Aug. 20 launch — on par with a public access channel. In the 25 to 54-year-old audience sought by advertisers, it drew 5,000 viewers.
The ratings are so low, they are considered a “scratch” and aren’t reported by Nielsen.
There are blogs with more readers (not this blog, but there are). The Huffington Post had over 8 million unique user accesses yesterday. Fox News has 355,000 daily viewers.
AJA says it is continuing to invest, but Americans seem to have voted with their fingers against the network that served as Bin Laden’s mouthpiece. I’m hoping it won’t take too long for all of those expensive
whores journalists they hired to be out on the street where they belong.
As my father used to like to say, “the American people are smarter than they look.”
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