Al Jazeera, which is in the process of shutting down its English language channel, announced Sunday that it will cut 500 jobs starting today to combat the effects that low oil prices are having on its operations.
The network, which is owned by the oil and gas revenue-dependent Qatari government, is being forced to trim back its expenditures as oil prices have fallen to multi-year lows, substantially reducing revenues.
Al Jazeera Media Network Director, Mostefa Souag, issued an internal memo telling employees that the decision came at the end of a long period of research and evaluation by the network, and that the moves will help ensure the network’s survival amid the “large scale changes underway in the global media landscape.”
“In order to support the long-term sustainability and market leadership of Al Jazeera while continuing our recognized commitment to high quality, independent and hard-hitting journalism around the world, we have embarked on a workforce optimization initiative… Prior to embarking on his workforce optimization initiative, we explored every possible option available to us.”
The cutbacks are a further embarrassment for the Qatari government, which spent an estimated $2 billion on Al Jazeera America in an attempt to compete with U.S. cable news channels, only to throw in the towel after less than three years on the air. The channel will fade to black on April 12, taking 700 jobs with it.
With oil prices likely to remain low for the foreseeable future, these job cuts may be only the beginning.