Al Jazeera America lays off dozens of employees

The cable channel laid off at least 20 freelance and full time employees on Friday, according to media reports

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Al Jazeera America is laying off dozens of employees as part of alleged restructuring, U.S. media reported on Friday.

The cable channel, which launched last August with some 800 employees, is disbanding its sport unit and is cutting its daily social media show “The Stream” to once a week.

The Hollywood Reporter quoted Dawn Bridges, executive vice president of corporate communications, as saying: “The majority of people affected were freelancers and many of the staff either came from the sports group or from The Stream.”

At least 20 Stream staffers were laid off on Friday, a source told The Hollywood Reporter.

Al Jazeera America president Kate O'Brian said in a memo to staff on Friday that the decision will affect “some staff, freelancers, independent contractors, and other project-oriented individuals who have been with us for several months.”

O'Brian said in the memo, a copy of which has been seen by Al Arabiya News, the new cuts are the result of restructuring after a launch that required “considerable resources.”

“Now it is time to set our sights on new goals, requiring different levels and areas of investment and resources,” O'Brian added.

The channel, which launched on Aug. 20, 2013 and has hired numerous high-profile journalists, has faced struggles to gain a foothold in the U.S. over the past year.

“We have reached what I will call our steady-state level of operations and we are bringing our staffing levels into alignment with our long-range plan as per our original business case,” O’Brian said in the memo.

“As a result, certain parts of our organization will expand or contract and staff levels and resources will be re-calibrated.”

Bridges confirmed the layoffs when contacted by Al Arabiya News.

Al Jazeera America is owned by the Doha-based, Qatari funded Al Jazeera Network, which also owns and operates BeIN sports and Al Jazeera Arabic, a competitor of Al Arabiya News Channel which this website is a part of.