Not a huge surprise when you consider that Al Jazeera America is replacing Current TV, a failed liberal channel, while inheriting chunks of its programming slate, and is just a vanity project for an oil-rich tyranny that doesn’t really care if it’s financially viable or not.
Advertisers have no motivation to climb on board the Al Jazeera train considering that its viewing audience consists of people who think MSNBC is too right wing or that you can’t get the truth from American news networks because they’re controlled by the Illuminati.
Advertising is about brand identity. Advertising on CNN associates your product with its brand. Advertising on Al Jazeera associates your brand with the news network best known for airing Bin Laden’s Greatest Hits.
But Qatar doesn’t care. It slapped down a wad of cash for Al Gore’s own vanity project because it is seeking to extend its power and influence. It’ll never make money, but it will help build the influence of Al Jazeera which builds the influence of Qatar.
And it’s not hard to imagine a time too far away when companies that do business with Qatar will be “encouraged” to advertise on Al Jazeera. It may be happening already for all we know.
The network launches with just six minutes of commercial time an hour — less than half the typical ad load of a cable news channel. Most of those will be in-house promos and local ad spots as national advertisers shun the controversial network.
The Mideast news outlet, funded by the government of Qatar, is gunning for an American audience despite a deep distrust in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the Iraq war.
While Al Jazeera is spinning the lack of ads as a positive for viewers, behind the scenes it is having a tough time persuading Madison Avenue to buy airtime on a network perceived as anti-American.
“I wouldn’t give them a dime, especially since we are in New York,” said one advertiser, who asked not to be named.
“They’re owned by an Arab country and they ran the [Osama] bin Laden tapes. I just wouldn’t trust them,” he said, referring to Al Jazeera’s role in gaining access to the late al Qaeda leader.
A major ad agency buyer who was pitched on the channel was even more blunt: “Not touching that one.”
For now. But good for them at any rate.