Al Jazeera America, which last January purchased Current TV from Al Gore for $500 million, will launch during the week of August 24, though they don’t have a specific date, according to Broadcasting and Cable. The industry publication spoke with Al Jazeera’s executive director of international operations, Ehab Al Shihabi, at The Cable Show in D.C. on Monday.
The network’s primetime lineup will include Real Money, which will be hosted by former CNN chief business correspondent Ali Velshi at 7 p.m., an unnamed 60 Minutes-style newsmagazine at 9 p.m., and America Tonight, which will analyze the key issues of the day.
Al Shihabi also said that Al Jazeera America will have a morning show that will focus on in-depth, fact-based news.
Many of the launch details are still pretty vague, as Al Jazeera hasn’t finished hiring talent and developing its programs.
One key hire that has yet to be made is president, though TV Newser reported on Monday that finalists have been interviewed. Al Shihabi is confident that he will have someone in place by the August 24 launch date.
Besides the enormous price Al Jazeera paid to buy Current TV, it has also spent heavily to hire on-air personnel and lease offices around the country, including their new Washington, D.C. studio at the Newseum.
All of this spending may have been necessary to try and gain some instant credibility, but Al Jazeera still faces a long, tough slog to expand its audience. Current TV was only available in an estimated 60 million homes. Since the purchase took place, cable operators haven’t shown a great deal of interest in adding the network to their systems, and probably won’t unless offered some sort of economic incentive to do so.
Don’t be surprised if the launch date gets pushed back until September, or later, as the schedule is severely underdeveloped with a little more than two months to go.