Former US vice president Al Gore has defended the decision to sell Current TV, the US broadcaster he founded, to Qatar’s Al Jazeera in a deal thought to be worth US$500m.
Speaking at a panel debate at the South by Southwest event in Texas, Gore claimed that the sale would “raise the game for television journalism” in the US. The station will subsequently be rebranded as Al Jazeera America.
"I knew when I made that decision [to sell Current TV]... my principle obligation was to do business in a way that makes the world a better place," Gore said in comments carried by NowThis News.
"You have heard me be very critical of American television journalism. I think that the addition of a very high-quality, 24/7 honest-to-goodness news channel that covers international news as well as national - that covers climate, that covers poverty, that cover issues that are ignored today - has the potential to be disruptive in a creative and positive way, and raise the game for television journalism here in the United State of America," Gore continued.
His comments come days after media consultant John Terenzio filed legal action against Gore, who was US vice president from 1993 to 2001. Terenzio claimed that the idea of selling Current TV to Al Jazeera was his and that he had neither been notified of, nor compensated by the transaction.
Current TV is broadcast in around 60m of the 100m homes in the US with cable or satellite service. Comcast Corp and DirecTV, with 22.4m and 19.8m subscribers, respectively, both distribute Current.
Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera is wholly-owned by the Qatari government but maintains it holds editorial independence. In 2010 cable disclosed by whistle blower site Wikileaks, the US Embassy in Doha alleged that the station was being used a tool for Qatar foreign policy.