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Al Jazeera America Shutting Down, Network Says

Al Jazeera America, the cable news network founded in 2013, will shut down in April, company executives told employees Wednesday.

"The decision is driven by the fact that our business model is simply not sustainable in an increasingly digital world, and because of the current global financial challenges," CEO Al Anstey said in a letter to his staff that was obtained by NBC News.

Anstey, who was appointed chief executive officer last May, praised the New York-based network's journalism, and promised to continue doing it for the remaining weeks.

Meanwhile, its parent network, Al Jazeera, which is headquartered in Qatar, plans to "expand its global digital services," Anstey wrote, without elaborating.

Al Jazeera America debuted in August 2013 as an attempt to draw American viewers interested in longer, investigative stories than what they were getting from existing networks. It was a separate venture from Al Jazeera English, the English-language version of Al Jazeera's international Arab-language network.

But Al Jazeera America never got good ratings, and staff morale suffered amid complaints of sexism and anti-Semitism. Anstey was brought in to improve the workplace culture, which reportedly improved.

But controversies continued, most recently with a report in December that linked several professional athletes to performance-enhancing drugs. Two of those athletes, baseball players Ryan Howard and Ryan Zimmerman, are suing the network.

Image: Al-Jazeera America editorial newsroom staff prepare for their first broadcast in New York on Aug. 20, 2013.
Al-Jazeera America editorial newsroom staff prepare for their first broadcast in New York on Aug. 20, 2013. Bebeto Matthews / AP, file