Al Jazeera Close to Current TV Takeover (Report)

Tim Molloy
The Wrap
Al Jazeera Completes Purchase of Current TV

The Al Jazeera network is close to a deal to take over the low-rated Current TV, the New York Times reports.

The Doha, Qatar-based Al Jazeera and Current TV, founded in 2005 by Al Gore and Joel Hyatt, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. But Current said in October that it was evaluating possible offers.

Current TV launched with the goal of providing a progressive, independent voice in cable news. It has since assembled a liberal-minded primetime lineup, made up largely of personalities who came from other networks. Its most ambitious effort -- recruiting Keith Olbermann -- flamed out when the former MSNBC host failed, as he tends to do, to get along with his new bosses.

Olbermann's exit left others to try to meet the higher ratings he was expected to bring. But the rest of Current's personalities -- including former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and ex-CNN host and New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer -- have struggled for audiences.

Al Jazeera, meanwhile, has long sought a larger U.S. audience, and taking over Current would give it access to about 60 million U.S. homes. Though it might retain some Current staff, it would probably offer its own programming, tailored to a U.S. audience, the Times said.

Al Jazeera is now available in only a few U.S. cities, including New York and Washington, but would establish a new U.S. channel based in New York. It would provide about 60 percent of the network's coverage, according to the Times. The rest would come from Al Jazeera English, the network's existing English-language channel, the newspaper said.

Though Current's prospective buyer is a surprise, the possibility of a sale is not. Hyatt said in October that Current has had three inquiries from prospective buyers in the past year, and that it was weighing its options.

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