NEW YORK (JTA) – Al Jazeera America, the New York offshoot of the Qatar-based Arabic TV news channel, will shut down by the end of April.
The demise of the channel, which was sued last year by former employees accusing it of anti-Semitism and sexism, was announced at a staff meeting Wednesday, according to The New York Times.
Al Jazeera America’s business model “is simply not sustainable in light of the economic challenges in the U.S. media marketplace,” Al Jazeera CEO Al Anstey said in a staff memo, the Times reported.
Although the channel is closing, Anstey said Al Jazeera would nonetheless expand its online presence in the United States.
The channel launched in August 2013.
A lawsuit filed in June by Al Jazeera America’s former senior vice president of programming and documentaries claimed the channel “favored its Arabic and male employees, treating its non-Arabic female employees as second-class citizens.” Shannon High-Bassalik also claimed the network, which purports to be objective, set aside truth for its “pro-Arabic prejudices.”
In a lawsuit filed two months earlier in New York State Supreme Court, an employee alleged that he was fired 10 days after complaining about the behavior of his supervisor. The employee, Matthew Luke, accused Osman Mahmud, who oversaw Broadcast Operations and Technology at the network, of making remarks deemed anti-Semitic, such as “whoever supports Israel should die a fiery death in hell,” and expressing a desire to replace an Israeli cameraman with a Palestinian one.
Luke said Mahmud also excluded women from emails and meetings, replaced female employees with male ones and filled positions with men of Middle Eastern descent.