TVBizwire

Al Jazeera Buys Al Gore's Current TV for $500 Million; Time Warner Cable Immediately Drops Service Bloomberg; AP

"Current TV, the network co-founded by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, was sold for about $500 million to Al Jazeera, the Qatar-based cable-news channel, according to two people with knowledge of the deal," reports Bloomberg.

The story also says, "Time Warner Cable Inc., the second-biggest U.S. cable company, said it would stop carrying Current TV with the ownership change...'Our agreement with Current has been terminated and we will no longer be carrying the service,' Time Warner Cable, based in New York, said in an e-mailed statement. 'We are removing the service as quickly as possible.'

The story added that Time Warner Cable already "carries Al Jazeera [English-language] programming in New York City, according to the Al Jazeera website."

Time Warner Cable is also the primary cable operator in Los Angeles. The cable operator does not carry Al Jazeera's English-language network in L.A.

The article notes that the $500 million selling price "represents an eightfold increase from the $60 million Gore and his partners paid for its predecessor in 2004, said one of the people [with knowledge of the deal], who asked not to be named because the terms are private. Gore, chairman, and Joel Hyatt, a co-founder and chief executive officer, announced the sale yesterday in a statement, without providing financial terms."

The Associated Press version of this story says that in buying Current TV Al Jazeera "is boosting its reach in the U.S. nearly ninefold to about 40 million homes."

The AP adds, "Al-Jazeera, owned by the government of Qatar, plans to gradually transform Current into a network called Al-Jazeera America by adding five to 10 new U.S. bureaus beyond the five it has now and hiring more journalists. More than half of the content will be U.S. news and the network will have its headquarters in New York, spokesman Stan Collender said.

"Collender said there are no rules against foreign ownership of a cable channel — unlike the strict rules limiting foreign ownership of free-to-air TV stations. He said the move is based on demand, adding that 40 percent of viewing traffic on Al-Jazeera English's website is from the U.S. 'This is a pure business decision based on recognized demand,' Collender said. 'When people watch Al-Jazeera, they tend to like it a great deal.' "