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Despite Poor Ratings, Al Jazeera America President Expects Viewers Will Come

Al-Jazeera-America304As Al Jazeera America approaches its one-year anniversary, network President Kate O’Brian predicts more viewers will start tuning in to the struggling network.

“There will be an inflection point when people realize what Al Jazeera does,” she said yesterday at a press tour for the TV Critics Association. “They won’t want the right-leaning, the left-leaning or the infotainment. They’ll come.”

The Hollywood Reporter reports that O’Brian acknowledged some viewers haven’t tuned in because of the network’s Arabic name and Middle East background, but she still believes success is on the horizon. “It’s a well-respected brand throughout the world. We will get there in America. It will come in time.”

But today, Reuters columnist Jack Schafer explains why viewers are shrugging toward AJAM instead of watching.

Why the antipathy? In some ways, Al Jazeera America has out-CNN’ed the old CNN with its plodding, responsible, in-depth and conventional approach to news. “There’s no real estate for partisan bickering” at Al Jazeera America, wrote USA Today‘s Rem Rieder earlier this year. “Its diet of top national and international stories is a throwback to the story lineup on the network newscasts of decades ago.” The channel’s anchors serve no candy, and no whiskey, either. Al Jazeera America isn’t just the anti-Vice, it’s the anti-Fox, and its sobriety makes PBS’s NewsHour seem like a TV riot in comparison. Is sobriety really the direction Al Jazeera America wants to go? As David Zurawik of the Baltimore Sun has written, NewsHour lost 48 percent of its audience between 2005 and 2013, indicating that Al Jazeera America is pursuing a class of viewers that’s headed for extinction.

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