After eight years, Al Gore’s big broadcast project faces some serious re-invention. Reports from both The New York Times and the Hollywood Reporter reveal that Current TV, which the former vice president founded with a flourish in 2005, could be taken over by Al Jazeera.
The Times reports that the Arabic-language network based in Qatar is putting “the finishing touches” on a deal to take over Mr. Gore’s broadcast baby, which draws as few as 41,000 viewers a night, according to Neilsen. Mr. Gore himself anchored Current’s presidential election coverage this fall.
“If the deal is completed, Current will provide the pan-Arab news giant with something it has sought for years: a pathway into American living rooms. Current is available in about 60 million of the 100 million homes in the United States with cable or satellite service,” The Times says.
Al Jazeera plans to use the purchase to create a new channel based in New York, possibly called “Al Jazeera America,” with 60 percent of the programming to be produced in the U.S.
That Arab network, which is financed by the government of Qatar, could obtain a greater reach - and thus rival CNN, Fox News and other news channels.
“To date, the country’s cable and satellite distributors have been reluctant to carry Al Jazeera English,” The Times reports, noting, “Acquiring Current TV, and thus its distribution deals across the country, would solve this dilemma for Al Jazeera, at least partially.”