CEO Ehab fired as Al Jazeera US falls into disarray

DetailsRebecca Hawkes | 07 May 2015

Al Jazeera America (AJA) has a new CEO in the shape of Al Anstey, who joins the beleaguered channel with immediate effect from his five-year tenure as managing director of its successful sister Al Jazeera English.

The appointment comes hot on the heels of reports in the New York Times of disarray at AJA, with the resignation of three senior executives and a marginalisation of the role of its president Kate O'Brian, the ABC News veteran who launched the channel in 2013.

Anstey replaces interim CEO Ehab Alshihabi, who had been with the New York-based channel since its launch.

"I'm delighted to be leading Al Jazeera America into the next stage of its development. The United States is a remarkable country, with amazing people across the nation who are looking for in-depth, trusted, and inspiring stories," said Anstey.

"I'm also very proud to be able to lead a fantastic team at Al Jazeera America who are dedicated to the highest quality storytelling. I am committed to engaging the team and uplifting our collective ambitions, as a much needed channel for American audiences."

Prior to his role as managing director of AJE, Anstey was director of news for the channel, responsible for the news division and the editorial content. He was also a key member of the start-up team of AJE, following a stint as head of foreign news at ITN. In a statement, Anstey said he started his career as a producer with CBS News and is pleased to be returning to the US.

"As Al Jazeera America moves forward into this new stage of its development, I am confident Al's leadership will transform the channel's ability to lead in the US marketplace, said Mostefa Souag, chairman of Al Jazeera America's board of directors.

"His demonstrated success leading Al Jazeera English and his passion for the Al Jazeera brand positions him with the unique ability to undertake the strategic changes needed for the success of the channel."

Variety claims that in the first quarter of this year, AJA averaged 35,000 viewers up from 16,000 in the first quarter of 2014. According to Nielsen, the channel ranked number 104 out of 106 advertising-supported cable channels in the US.