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ABC’s Kate O’Brian Named Al Jazeera America President; Ehab Al Shihabi Is Interim CEO

Network is launching Aug. 20

Al Jazeera America has named ABC News veteran Kate O'Brian as its president and Ehab Al Shihabi as its interim CEO.

The appointments were among several senior management announcements Monday. The network finally received a launch date: Aug. 20.

Also Monday, an Al Jazeera America spokesman pointedly declined to deny a Huffington Post report that MSNBC and Fox News veteran David Schuster is joining Al Jazeera as an anchor. He joins scuh previously announced contributors as CNN's Soledad O'Brien.

Additionally, David Doss has been named senior vice president for news programming; Marcy McGinnis has been appointed senior vice-president, newsgathering; and Shannon High-Bassalik will serve as senior vice-president, documentaries and programs.

In January, the network completed its purchase of Current TV, which Al Jazeera America will replaced in nearly 60 million homes.

Al Shihabi, Al Jazeera's executive director for international operations, is a five-year veteran of the network who has overseen the network’s more than 70 bureaus around the globe. He has taken part in the creation of Al Jazeera’s Balkans and Al Jazeera’s Turkish channels as well as Al Jazeera America.

O'Brian joins Al Jazeera from ABC News where she was senior vice-president for news. Since 2007, O’Brian she has led ABC News' bureaus worldwide, its business, law, justice, medical, and investigative units, as well as NewsOne, ABC News Radio and affiliate relations.

“Al Jazeera America will demonstrate that quality journalism is alive and well in the United States,” O'Brian said. “Working alongside the talented journalists at ABC News has prepared me to take this step and I am deeply grateful for thirty years at that outstanding organization. As I bring everything I learned to this new role I’m looking forward to showing the Al Jazeera viewers that there is a strong demand for the type of in depth reporting for which Al Jazeera is so well known.”

In an email to staff, ABC News president Ben Sherwood called O'Brian's exit "exciting and bittersweet news."

"Kate has been a mentor and role model to scores of young people across the news division," he wrote. "On a personal level, I’m deeply grateful to her for helping steer the division through the complex transitions of the last several years. And I will miss the sound of her voice, urgent and measured, calling in the middle of the night, when news is breaking somewhere around the world."

Doss, who will also be based in New York City, comes to Al Jazeera America from CNN where he was senior executive producer for “Anderson Cooper 360.”

McGinnis, who will also be New York City-based, was most recently associate dean of Stony Brook University’s School of Journalism. She spent more than three decades at CBS News where her roles included senior vice president of news coverage.

High-Bassalik will also be based in New York City and joins Al Jazeera America from CNN.   She was previously executive producer of development for NBC Peacock Productions and vice president of daytime program development at MSNBC.

The announcements came after Al Jazeera canceled plans to appear Wednesday at the Television Critics Association summer press tour in Beverly Hills. Network representatives said it would be too difficult logistically for key employees to be in California so soon after the announcements.

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