It has been more than three months since Qatari-based Al Jazeera purchased Current TV from Al Gore, and according to the New York Post, the initial projections of a June launch will not be met.
A source told the Post that the network has still not hired a news chief, finished its studio or settled on office space, though they have been advertising heavily to staff up in anticipation of going on the air in June.
The original target date has now been pushed to “summer”— with some people mentioning a date closer to Labor Day, according to the Post.
“This is not a ratings race,” said a source. “This is a get-on-the-air race. June is not going to happen. The best guess is August or September.”
The inability of Al Jazeera to hire a news boss has not been due to a lack of effort. The Post reported that the network has approached several people, including former NBC News president Steve Capus, former CNN/US news president Jon Klein, former CNN producer David Doss and former Current TV president David Bohrman, but has come up empty handed.
One executive told the Post he was squeamish about the source of Al Jazeera’s money—something that didn’t bother Al Gore. That may be giving others pause as well. Gore was roundly criticized for selling out to big oil—to the tune of $500 million—which he regularly attacked for contributing to global warming. Another reason may be the perception that the network will be nothing more than a pro-Arab propaganda network, not a real news network like Fox News or CNN.
The network has managed to hire former CNN Chief Business correspondent Ali Velshi, and investigative journalist Ed Pound, whose most recent job was communications director for Recovery.gov, a government website that tracks stimulus spending. Pound was hired to head an investigative reporting team. But without a news president, Al Jazeera America is more like a rudderless ship. At the rate they are moving, even a September launch may turn out to be ambitious.