Al Jazeera buys Al Gore’s Current TV

Deal to boost Doha-based network’s reach in the US to around 40m homes
Al Jazeera news channel.
By Claire Valdini
Thu 03 Jan 2013 11:30 AM

Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera has acquired Current TV, the cable television network founded by former US Vice President Al Gore.

The move will boost the Doha-based network’s reach in the US to around 40m homes, giving the pan-Arab station a significant boost in the US, something it has been struggling to achieve for many years.

“By acquiring Current TV, Al Jazeera will significantly expand our existing distribution footprint in the US, as well as increase our newsgathering and reporting efforts in America,” Ahmed bin Jassim Al Thani, Al Jazeera’s director general, said in a statement.

Al Jazeera will close Current TV and replace it with a new network, Al Jazeera America, while Gore and co-founder and CEO Joel Hyatt will remain on the advisory board, it said.

The new channel will be headquartered in New York and in addition to existing bureaus in that city, Washington, Los Angeles, Miami and Chicago, Al Jazeera will open more bureaus, doubling the network’s US-based staff to more than 300 employees.

The Doha network, owned by the government of Qatar, did not disclose the purchase price but Bloomberg reported the deal to be valued at around US$500m, quoting two people familiar with the deal.

Current TV, founded in 2005 by Gore and Hyatt, is distributed 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. 

Time Warner Cable on Wednesday said that it would stop carrying Current TV with the ownership change. “Our agreement with Current has been terminated and we will no longer be carrying the service,” it said in a statement.

“We are removing the service as quickly as possible,” it added. Time Warner Cable had previously said it was considering dropping Current TV if it did not boost its ratings.

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