Despite low ratings and a lack of distribution, Al Jazeera America is on solid ground, says the news network’s president, Kate O’Brian.
O’Brian cited the channel’s recent Peabody Award and Robert F. Kennedy Award for Excellence in Journalism wins for its documentary series “Fault Lines” as evidence of the high-quality content on Al Jazeera America, which launched in August and is available in just under 60 million homes.
“We are trending in the right direction,” O’Brian told television critics at the semi-annual Television Critics Assn. conference in Beverly Hills. Funded by the government of Qatar, Al Jazeera America has spent hundreds of millions of dollars in an attempt to establish a news platform here.
But wooing viewers to sample the channel has proven difficult. O’Brian, a former senior executive at ABC News, said there is no pressure for immediate success on Al Jazeera America.
“We have extremely supportive corporate parents,” O’Brian said. “We are here for the long run.”
Asked to contrast Al Jazeera America with CNN, Fox News and MSNBC, O’Brian said, “We’re the place to go when you want unbiased in-depth news. Our agenda is to tell stories from the ground up.”
Al Jazeera America focuses much of its coverage on the United States and has opened 12 bureaus around the country and has a staff of more than 800 employees.
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