Current TV, the seven year-old under-performing progressive cable news and opinion channel, was sold today to Al Jazeera, the worldwide cable news outlet based in Qatar. Time Warner Cable was not supportive of the deal, and immediately pulled the plug on Current TV, eliminating access to almost 13 million American households.
“Current will provide the pan-Arab news giant with something it has sought for years: a pathway into American living rooms,” Brian Stelter writes at The New York Times:
Current is available in about 60 million of the 100 million homes in the United States with cable or satellite service.
Rather than simply use Current to distribute its English-language channel, called Al Jazeera English and based in Doha, Qatar, Al Jazeera will create a new channel, called Al Jazeera America, based in New York. Roughly 60 percent of the programming will be produced in the United States, while the remaining 40 percent will come from Al Jazeera English.
Al Jazeera may absorb some Current TV staff members, according to people with knowledge of the deal who insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. But Current’s schedule of shows will most likely be dissolved in the spring.
“Al Jazeera is planning to invest significantly in building ‘Al Jazeera America,’ a network focused on international news for the American audience,” the Current chief executive Joel Hyatt said in an e-mail to staffers on Wednesday evening. Referring to Mr. Gore, he said, “Al and I will both serve on the advisory board of Al Jazeera America, and we look forward to helping build an important news network.”
The plan will bring Al Jazeera, which is financed by the government of Qatar, into closer competition with CNN and other news channels in the United States.
In a press release, Current founder and former Vice President of the United States, Al Gore, and Joel Hyatt, co-founder and CEO, said:
We are proud and pleased that Al Jazeera, the award-winning international news organization, has bought Current TV. Since its founding in 2005, Current has grown into a national network available in nearly 60 million homes, offering thought-provoking commentary and Emmy and Peabody award-winning programming. Current Media was built based on a few key goals: To give voice to those who are not typically heard; to speak truth to power; to provide independent and diverse points of view; and to tell the stories that no one else is telling. Al Jazeera, like Current,believes that facts and truth lead to a better understanding of the world around us.
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