January 3, 2013 in Business

Al-Jazeera channel buys Current TV

Ryan Nakashima Associated Press
 

LOS ANGELES — Al-Jazeera, the Pan-Arab news channel that has struggled to win space on American cable television, has acquired Current TV, Al Gore confirmed Wednesday.

Gore and his partner Joel Hyatt announced the sale in a statement.

“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,” Gore and Hyatt said.

“Al-Jazeera has the same goals and, like Current, believes that facts and truth lead to a better understanding of the world around us.”

The acquisition extends Al-Jazeera’s reach from a few large U.S. metropolitan areas, where some people can watch Al-Jazeera English, to 60 million homes.

The network’s managing director, Tony Burman, in 2010 blamed a “very aggressive hostility” from the Bush administration for reluctance among cable and satellite companies to show the network.

Al-Jazeera has attracted respect for its ability to build a serious news product in a short time. But there may be a culture clash at the network. Dave Marash, a former “Nightline” reporter who worked for Al-Jazeera in Washington, said he left the network in 2008 in part because he sensed an anti-American bias there.

Current, meanwhile, began as a groundbreaking effort to promote user-generated content. But it has settled into a more conventional format of political talk television with a liberal bent.

Former New York Gov. Elliot Spitzer, former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Cenk Uygur are currently its lead personalities. Current signed Keith Olbermann to be its top host in 2011, but his tenure lasted less than a year.

Current TV, founded in 2005 by former vice president Gore and Hyatt, is expected to post $114 million in revenue in 2013, according to research firm SNL Kagan. The firm pegged the network’s cash flow at nearly $24 million a year.

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