(Adds background, context)
By Jessica Toonkel
Jan 13 (Reuters) - Al Jazeera America, the cable television news outlet owned by Qatar-based Al Jazeera Media Network, is shutting down less than three years after its high-profile launch, the network said on Wednesday.
The U.S. cable network will cease operations by April 30, the network said, citing economic challenges in the American media market.
Al Jazeera bought Current TV, a U.S.-based television network owned by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and his business partner Joel Hyatt, to launch Al Jazeera America for $500 million in 2013.
However, the network almost immediately hit challenges as distributors, including Time Warner Cable Inc and AT&T Inc , argued that they had contracted with Current TV and not Al Jazeera.
The company said it will instead expand its existing international digital services in the United States, as consumers ditch traditional media and move to mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets for news.
The network will provide more details about the expansion of its digital services in the United States over the coming months, it said.
(Additional reporting by Anya George Tharakan in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Jonathan Oatis) ((email@example.com; +1 646 223-7882))
Keywords: AL JAZEERA CLOSURE/