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New Current TV president David Bohrman wants to be 'tone changer'

August 09, 2011|By Joe Flint, Los Angeles Times

The makeover of Current TV from a cable channel made up of user-generated content to a political news and analysis network took a big step forward with the hiring of a prominent CNN executive to oversee its programming efforts.

David Bohrman, who has held several senior positions at CNN, most recently as a senior vice president and chief innovation officer, is joining Current as its president. Bohrman, a Washington insider who used to run CNN's bureau there, has also had stints at ABC and NBC.

The tapping of Bohrman is the latest move by Current, co-founded by former Vice President Al Gore and Joel Hyatt. Earlier this year, Current hired commentator Keith Olbermann, whose show debuted seven weeks ago. Last month, Hyatt added the CEO title to his business card, which led to the departure of Mark Rosenthal, who had held that position.

In a statement, Gore described Current's mission as to "shine a light on important issues, to spark debate and to speak truth to power."

Current, which Hyatt said will bring a liberal perspective to its political coverage, wants to take on MSNBC and CNN. The first priority for Hyatt will be boosting its distribution. The San Francisco channel is in about 58 million homes; CNN, MSNBC and Fox News are each in more than 90 million homes.

In an interview, Bohrman said he thinks Current can "create a network that can enlighten the viewers and voters that are out there" without relying on the screaming matches that have become a staple of cable news.

"I think we can be a real tone changer," Bohrman said. MSNBC and CNN, he said, constantly feature guests "sniping" at each other.

"They think it is balance, but it is just noise.... I want to provide a forum for various opinions but I don't want people shouting at each other every other sentence," he said. "I think we'll get viewers across the political spectrum."

Hyatt said the addition of Olbermann has brought new advertisers to Current as well as new viewers. Categories spending more on the channel include pharmaceutical companies, wireless providers and beverage companies.

Bohrman stressed that his first priority will be finding new shows to package around Olbermann's 8 p.m.-9 p.m. telecast.

"Keith is the beachhead and we need to strengthen it," he said.

joe.flint@latimes.com

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