Herring Eyes Buying Al Jazeera America

One America News Network (OAN) parent Herring Networks is exploring buying the shuttering Al Jazeera America to get carriage on cable systems.

"Al Jazeera America and One America News Network (OAN) launched within a few months of each other," OAN parent Herring Networks told Multichannel News. "The latest ratings information from third party Rentrak shows that One America News Network has over four times the ratings [of Al Jazeera America]. "We are inquiring about the opportunity to acquire Al Jazeera America," he said.

The idea would be to replace it with OAN and thereby secure carriage (just as Al Jazeera tried to do when it bought Al Gore's Current TV). Al Jazeera has 60.8 million subs, according to Nielsen. "We would replace with One America News Network," he said, which has "a superior brand and ratings."

Herring also said he would be willing to "soften the blow" to Al Jazeera staffers by "absorbing some of their operations such as New York City and D.C. staff."

OAN has a D.C. bureau and Herring said they have already been looking at the same building and studios Al Jazeera uses in New York.

Al Jazeera has been leasing space in the Newseum, which has some of the best views in the city, particularly of Capitol Hill, but Herring signaled he would probably stay with his 101 Constitution Ave, which he points out is the closest commercial building to the Capitol and where he has negotiated rooftop access for live shots.

Herrring Networks and its fans have succeeded in flooding the FCC's Charter-TWC-Bright House merger docket with filings calling for its carriage as part of that deal.

Charter does not carry OAN, which Herring has pointedly pointed out to the FCC, saying it was an example of Charter’s unfriendliness to independent networks. But OAN is also not carried by Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox or most other major MVPDs — with the exception of Verizon Communications’s FiOS TV and AT&T’s U-verse TV.

Adonis Hoffman, Former chief of staff to FCC member Mignon Clyburn and chairman of Business in the Public Interest, who has been advising Herring on carriage and policy matters, said: "Herring Networks is an innovative, creative and entrepreneurial company, with high quality news programming through One America News. It has been looking to expand its offering to a broader audience, and this would be win-win for Herring as an independent, and any one or all of the big cable players. I also believe the Commission would find this a convenient and efficacious way to address some of the concerns raised by Herring and other independents concerning carriage."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.