Multiple sources at the Al Jazeera satellite TV network say there has been a major management shakeup. There has been no official statement yet from the channel; however, all sources contacted said the board of directors was changed.
A former employee with intimate knowledge of the structure and operation of the channel noted that the change brought an all-Qatari board, perhaps with one exception. This source says "There will definitely be policy changes: Fewer veiled women employees and fewer Bin Laden tapes, for example."
Another source in Doha emphasizes that financial and administrative issues should not be overlooked either. He says: "It was about time someone moved to put an end to the internal power struggle among the three factions; Muslim Brotherhood who turned Al Jazeera into a publicity machine for Al Qaeda and other extremists; Arab nationalists who have their own agenda and for example support the Iraqi Baathists; and those connected with Hezbollah and the Syrian regime."
An Al Jazeera producer said the management was seeking to 'lighten up' the Arabic channel's current affairs show Hadeeth Al Sabah. More entertainment coverage including celebrity news was being sought.
As many observers attributed the current radical outlook of Al Jazeera Arabic channel to its general manager Waddah Khanfar, an interesting question is about his future. The picture is not clear in that regard. Khanfar appears to have been excluded from the new board. Some sources said this was merely a separation of duties between the board and the executive for better corporate governance. Members of staff say while the details of the management's new deal with Khanfar is far from clear; he nevertheless appeared upset with the changes.
There is also talk in the channel that the new board will be more active in determining day-to-day editorial policy. Sources say the board wants more female managers in the decision making process. The name of Algerian presenter Khadija ben Ganna is mentioned as a potential team leader in news.
The board has a female member too: Mariam Rashed Al Khater. She has an MA degree in journalism from a US university and her previous roles suggest that she has the ear of Sheikha Moza, the wife of the Emir of Qatar. This has led to suggestions that Sheikha Moza, a modernist with close ties to US educational institutions, will have her hand in the daily affairs of the channel.
It is hard to establish the accuracy of each particular report or rumor; however, in the category of "where there is smoke…" the paymasters of Al Jazeera do appear to have moved to reshape the channel to make it serve their political interests more effectively.