Al Jazeera Completes Purchase of Current TV (Updated)

The Wrap
Al Jazeera Completes Purchase of Current TV
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Al Jazeera Completes Purchase of Current TV

UPDATE, Monday 5:14 p.m.: Al Jazeera has officially purchased Current TV, the latter's co-founders, Al Gore and Joel Hyatt said Wednesday.

In a statement, Gore and Hyatt said that they are "proud and pleased" by the takeover, noting that the two news agencies share similar goals.

"We are proud and pleased that Al Jazeera, the award-winning international news organization, has bought Current TV," Gore and Hyatt said in a statement provided to TheWrap. "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," Gore and Hyatt said 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.  Al Jazeera, like Current, believes that facts and truth lead to a better understanding of the world."

However, the newly purchased Current TV won't be seen by customers of Time Warner Cable. The cable carrier said Wednesday that it is terminating its carriage agreement with Current "as quickly as possible." 

"Our agreement with Current has been terminated and we will no longer be carrying the service," a Time Warner Cable spokeswoman told TheWrap in a statement. "We are removing the service as quickly as possible."

Previously...

The Al Jazeera network is close to a deal to take over the low-rated Current TV, the New York Times reports.

The Doha, Qatar-based Al Jazeera and Current TV, founded in 2005 by Al Gore and Joel Hyatt, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. But Current said in October that it was evaluating possible offers.

Current TV launched with the goal of providing a progressive, independent voice in cable news. It has since assembled a liberal-minded primetime lineup, made up largely of personalities who came from other networks. Its most ambitious effort -- recruiting Keith Olbermann -- flamed out when the former MSNBC host failed, as he tends to do, to get along with his new bosses.

Olbermann's exit left others to try to meet the higher ratings he was expected to bring. But the rest of Current's personalities -- including former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and ex-CNN host and New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer -- have struggled for audiences.

Al Jazeera, meanwhile, has long sought a larger U.S. audience, and taking over Current would give it access to about 60 million U.S. homes. Though it might retain some Current staff, it would probably offer its own programming, tailored to a U.S. audience, the Times said.

Al Jazeera is now available in only a few U.S. cities, including New York and Washington, but would establish a new U.S. channel based in New York. It would provide about 60 percent of the network's coverage, according to the Times. The rest would come from Al Jazeera English, the network's existing English-language channel, the newspaper said.

Though Current's prospective buyer is a surprise, the possibility of a sale is not. Hyatt said in October that Current has had three inquiries from prospective buyers in the past year, and that it was weighing its options.

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