The New York Times’ Brian Stelter writes about Al Jazeera buying Current TV in order to kill it and take over its airspace in cable. This may prove to be one of the smartest moves of 2013…if the cable nets keep it at Current’s 60 million subscriber level and it doesn’t drastically drop off.
“Al Jazeera is planning to invest significantly in building ‘Al Jazeera America,’ a network focused on international news for the American audience,” the Current chief executive Joel Hyatt said in an e-mail to staffers on Wednesday evening. Referring to Mr. Gore, he said, “Al and I will both serve on the advisory board of Al Jazeera America, and we look forward to helping build an important news network.”
The plan will bring Al Jazeera, which is financed by the government of Qatar, into closer competition with CNN and other news channels in the United States.
For Al Jazeera, the acquisition is a coming-of-age moment. A decade ago, the Arabic-language channel was reviled by American politicians for showing video tapes and messages from al Qaeda members and sympathizers. Now it is acquiring an American channel.
That sound of nervous hand wringing you hear is coming from Atlanta. I really really like this move because it will finally put pressure on CNN US to be more international looking than it has needed to be in the past in ways that BBC World News coming to just Time Warner Cable couldn’t achieve. Consider it an “international rear guard action” that the Time Warner news network previously didn’t have to contend with when the only competition it faced was the overwhelmingly domestic (and US politics) focused FNC and MSNBC.
How big a deal is this? It’s big enough that I have now added an Al Jazeera category to my blog posts…
Update: If you didn’t believe me that this news is a direct threat to CNN, I offer this proof.
Update 2: Said proof is meaningless. I keep forgetting TWC was spun off…