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The controversial head of Al Jazeera America has been “replaced” by the broadcaster.
Ehab Al Shihabi has overseen a clutch of high-profile departures over the past few weeks, and is now facing at least one troubling $15 million wrongful dismissal lawsuit, and allegations of an anti-American bias at the news station.
On May 4th Al Shihabi insisted to journalists that he “knew what he was doing”, and seemed to have the backing of senior management. But by May 6th it seems the Qatari-owned channel has decided to make a change, and replacing him with Al Anstey, a veteran newsman and long-term staffer at Al Jazeera London, a sister channel, where he was appointed Managing Director back in 2010. Anstey has worked at Al Jazeera since 2006, prior to which he was head of foreign news at ITN in London.
“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, in a statement. “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. I am extremely pleased at Al’s appointment.”
The appointment is designed to stem losses in key staff at the Al Jazeera America channel, and perhaps also start building ratings, revenues and in influence, all of which seem to be something of a struggle. The channel is currently Number 104 out of 106 ad-supported channels, as measured by Nielsen.