Al Jazeera reportedly in talks to buy Current TV
Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images
LOS ANGELES Al Jazeera, the Pan-Arab news channel that has struggled to win space on American cable television, is negotiating to buy Al Gore's Current TV and with it, access to 60 million U.S. homes, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Talks about the pending deal were confirmed by a person familiar with the matter. The person was not authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. The deal was earlier reported by The New York Times.
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The acquisition could extend Al Jazeera's reach beyond a few large U.S. metropolitan areas, where some people can watch Al Jazeera English.
The network's managing director, Tony Burman, in 2010 blamed a "very aggressive hostility" from the Bush administration for reluctance among cable and satellite companies to show the network.
Al Jazeera has attracted respect for its ability to build a serious news product in a short time. But there may be a culture clash at the network. Dave Marash, a former "Nightline" reporter who worked for Al Jazeera in Washington, said he left the network in 2008 in part because he sensed an anti-American bias there.
Current, meanwhile, began as a groundbreaking effort to promote user-generated content. But it has settled into a more conventional format of political talk television with a liberal bent. Gore worked on-air as an analyst during its recent election night coverage.
Former New York Gov. Elliot Spitzer, former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Cenk Uygur are currently its lead personalities. Current signed Keith Olbermann to be its top host in 2011 but his tenure lasted less than a year before it ended in bad blood on both sides.
Current has largely been outflanked by MSNBC in its effort be a liberal alternative to the leading cable news network, Fox News Channel.
Current hired former CNN Washington bureau chief David Bohrman in 2011 to be its president. Bohrman has pushed the network to innovate technologically, with an election night coverage that emphasized social media conversation.
Current TV, founded in 2005 by former vice president Gore and Joel Hyatt, is expected to post $114 million in revenue in 2013, according to research firm SNL Kagan. The firm pegged the network's cash flow at nearly $24 million a year.
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