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Al Jazeera in talks to buy Current TV

January 02, 2013|By Joe Flint
  • Former Vice President Al Gore.
Former Vice President Al Gore. (Michael Robinson Chavez…)

Current TV, the struggling news/talk channel co-founded by former Vice President Al Gore, is in advanced talks to sell itself to Al Jazeera, the Qatar-based cable news company, a person close to the stituation confirmed.

An announcement regarding a sale could come as early as Wednesday afternoon. The talks were first reported by the New York Times.

Majority owned by Gore and his business partner Joel Hyatt, Current has been on the block for several months. The cable channel, which originaly focused on short-form documentary programs, has in recent years tried to rebrand itself as a news outlet for liberal viewers. The hope was that such a move would bring it more viewers and ad revenue.

However, when the high-profile hiring of commentator Keith Olbermann backfired, so did the channel's hopes of competing with other cable news outlets. Olbermann was pushed out after clashing with management last year.

The low-rated Current is avalable in 60 million homes, which has put it at a competitive disadvantage to the other cable news outlets including Fox News, MSNBC and CNN, all of which are in around 100 million homes.

For Al Jazeerza, which already operates an English-language version of its channel here, the purchase will give it a much broader platform. Its English-language service has very limited distribution in the United States.

The new owners may have to renegotiate distribution deals with pay-TV operators. As for programming, Al Jazeera is expected to bring a more international focus to much of the content on Current.

Follow Joe Flint on Twitter @JBFlint.


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