Al-Jazeera buys Gore's Current TV

 

The Pan-Arab news channel, Al-Jazeera, said today it will buy Current TV, the struggling cable channel founded by Al Gore and partners, in a move that will boost the Qatar-based broadcaster's footprint in the United States.

Terms were undisclosed, but analysts estimated the deal could be worth as much as $500 million.

Al-Jazeera said it would start a new US-based news channel with the acquisition, which will make it available in more than 40 million US households, up from 4.7 million prior to the deal.

The deal brings Al-Jazeera, which operates under the patronage of the emir of Qatar and his family, into closer competition with American news channels like CNN, MSNBC and Fox. But the award-winning channel that is seen in more than 260 million homes in 130 countries faces hurdles with US distributors and viewers, television industry analysts said.

Current, a liberal channel which has battled low viewership, had been distributed in about 60 million of the 100 million homes in the United States with cable or satellite service.

One of its distributors, Time Warner Cable, which accounted for about 12 million of those homes, announced late yesterday it was terminating its carriage deal. "Our agreement with Current has been terminated and we will no longer be carrying the service. We are removing the service as quickly as possible," Time Warner Cable said in a
statement.

Reuters news agency reported in April that Time Warner Cable was considering dropping Current if it did not reach certain ratings thresholds .

Current is also distributed by Comcast Corp and DirecTV, with 22.4 million and 19.8 million subscribers, respectively. Comcast or DirecTV were either unavailable or declined comment. Dish Network Corp  declined to comment.

Both Comcast and DirecTV also hold equity stakes of more than 5 per cent in Current, according to public filings.

Current said Mr Gore, its chairman, and co-founder Joel Hyatt, the chief executive officer, will remain on the advisory board.

Reuters

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