Don’t worry, folks. Once the midterm elections ramp up in 2014 we’re sure Democrats will be more than happy to try and reach the crackpot audience tuning in to see such media luminaries as Soledad O’Brien and David Shuster. Until then they’ll have to survive on in-house ads and promos.
When Al Jazeera America hits the air tomorrow, it will come with a big budget, a global network of 1,000 journalists and a mission to compete with entrenched rivals like CNN, Fox News and MSNBC.
What it won’t have? Advertisers.
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.”
In the meantime, they’re at least maintaining a sense of humor.
“[Advertisers] have been especially interested in our decision to limit the number of commercial minutes each hour and how our commitment to fact-based, unbiased and in-depth reporting appeals to the same audience they are trying to reach,” an Al Jazeera spokesperson said.
Because if anyone is fact-based and unbiased, it’s Soledad O’Brien. Oh, wait…