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Al Jazeera buys Current TV in bid for US airtime

Published time: January 03, 2013 03:58
Edited time: January 03, 2013 07:58
AFP Photo / Franck Fife

AFP Photo / Franck Fife

After announcing in October that it was considering looking for a buyer, struggling American cable channel Current TV has been purchased by Al Jazeera. The move will see the Qatar-based international news outlet gain new access to American viewers.

­Current, founded in 2005 by former US vice president Al Gore and business partner Joe Hyatt, was "built on a few key goals: To give voice to those who are not typically heard; to speak truth to power; to provide independent and diverse points of view; and to tell the stories that no one else is telling," Gore and Hyatt said in a statement.

"Al-Jazeera has the same goals and, like Current, believes that facts and truth lead to a better understanding of the world around us," the statement continued.

The pan-Arab news outlet, which has had trouble courting distributors stateside, is currently only available in a few US metropolitan areas.

The acquisition will give Al Jazeera access to about 60 million American homes, or three fifths of the country's cable and satellite television subscribers.

According to a report in the New York Times' Media Decoder blog, people with inside information on the deal claim that Al Jazeera will create a New York-based news team, while slightly under half of the programming aired in the US will be produced by Al Jazeera English. The buyout is expected to mean the close of most of Current's programming.

Current was a relatively unknown force in American media until 2011, when it made a name for itself by hiring MSNBC defector Keith Olbermann who was fired a year later.

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