Al Jazeera America’s closure is a sad moment for the documentary community.
AJ’s documentary team led by Diana El-Osta and Cynthia Kane has supported quality films that are finding fewer slots elsewhere in the North American channels landscape.
In fact, we were working this week with AJA on a Case Study of an important documentary on Ebola from Antje Boemart and Docdays Productions, Berlin.
- Here is an analysis of the AJA situation from today’s New York Times.
- And my earlier profile of Al Jazeera Documentary / Arabic.
- AJA’s 3Q 2015 average, quarterly primetime audience was only 20,000 viewers.
- That compares with 1,542,000 for Fox News and 644,000 for CNN.
- At that level of support, AJA’s closure was inevitable.
I’m reminded of several failed cable channel ventures that aimed at providing a quality programming experience to U.S. viewers:
- Al Gore’s Current was a bust.
- The New York Times‘ exited its co-venture with Discovery, which morphed into Crime-themed ID.
- The Christian Science Monitor‘s news network almost ruined that once prosperous Boston-based church, losing hundreds and hundreds of millions.
- And my first job at CBS involved picking up some of the pieces of the failed CBS Cable channel, said to be the initiative of the CBS founder’s wife to offer original programs on the Arts and Society for upscale audiences.
- Thanks to the AJA documentary team for their very important contributions.
- And I’ll miss AJA for its welcome, independent news coverage.