Al Jazeera Buys (and Kills) Current TV…

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…

24 Responses to “Al Jazeera Buys (and Kills) Current TV…”

  1. wheresthebeef09 Says:

    Time Warner already dropped the channel, so looks like it already broke 60m….

  2. Well, at least I can be happy this network got TechTV’d as it were. Never understood Current, never.

  3. As someone on the left, this hurts me particularly hard for a few reasons. First of all, Current was actually liberal/progressive, not mainstream and corporate-run (like MSNBC has become), and they were the only challenge to MSNBC attempting to out-liberal other competitiors.

    Second, I love Cenk Uygur, and The Young Turks, who in my opinion need a more mainstream platform than they have. People may not like the on-screen presence Uygur has when he bloviates his point, but he’s mighty effective and gaining much clout among the progressive community.

    Third, as a mid-20’s student in San Francisco studying media and broadcasting, Current was one of my only good options to intern in a news organization. in fact, I sent in an application and interviewed, but now they aren’t getting back to me, most likely because of this recent revelation.

    On the bright side, at least Al Jazeera is getting its well-deserved break to finally get viewers to watch their excellent quality of journalism.

    Also, this might end up being a good thing for the soon-to-be unemployed hosts at Current, and maybe MSNBC can continue to monopolize other liberal opinions going anywhere else and continue to build their pro-Democrat, Obama cheer leading coalition (to counter the anti-Obama coalition at Fox).

  4. Time Warner dropping it was kind of baked in. TW knows a threat when it sees it. Other operators following suit is a more negative sign.

  5. icemannyr Says:

    So Time Warner is using the excuse that the contract with Current TV ended when the Al Jazeera deal to buy Current TV was done?

    Since when does one company buying another channel automatically get it deleted from a cable system before they even go off the air?

    Current is still broadcasting programming on FiOS and I’m sure other providers.

  6. But isn’t Time Warner Cable an independent company now? Is this really a representation of fear from CNN when Time Warner and Time Warner Cable are no longer related?

  7. TIme Warner Cable is separate from Time Warner for a long while now. and CNN has has to fear BBC World News a bit more , since it’s more available than AJ is or will be and they should fix out some of the CNN I Issues of lots of taped stuff.

  8. Yes, I got it wrong. Again. That’s the second time I’ve made that mistake. Makes me look bad but whatever. Nobody’s perfect.

  9. To funny, Marxist TV gets taken over by Islamist Fascists TV. Good companions. heh….

  10. “A network focused on international news for the American audience.”


    They can’t be serious. A 24/7 soccer channel would have had about as much appeal. 🙂

    This makes no sense to me.

  11. So is CNN at least going to try to buy the “Vanguard” franchise?! They really could use it

  12. icemannyr Says:

    Al Jazeera buys Current TV to get carriage in United States and Time Warner uses a clause in the contract that says if Current TV is sold they have the right to drop the channel. 😛

  13. It’s pretty simple. Al-Jazeera will expose what our government has done and how we’ve sat back and supported dictators slaughtering thousands, maybe millions, of innocent people all to protect Israel. We can’t have that available nationwide, it might force America to rethink foreign policy and where our defense spending goes.

  14. Do global warming fossil fuels fund Al Jazeera?

    Irony in a lock box.

  15. Doesn’t sound to me like this ‘new’ AJ channel is ready to go. So, they should’ve just put AJE on there.

    A while back Uverse moved Current to a higher package and now I don’t think they’re even carrying it at all.

    Anyway, I can watch AJE, Russia Today, CNNI (and more) on either the desktop or Android tablet with no problem.

    Andy – Right.. The same terrorist tapes US broadcast & cable showed too. But, did they catch any slack? Of course not.

    While buying ‘current’ with built in subscribers is a smart move.. Not for AJ. I think most cable/satellite will dump ’em quick.

  16. savefarris Says:

    Do global warming fossil fuels fund Al Jazeera?
    Irony in a lock box.

    Even more Irony-ous: the deal got done when it did … to avoid paying the new capital gains taxes.

    Gore’s clearly not paying his fair share.

  17. imnotblue Says:

    That’s nothing new, farris.

  18. Heh, Al Gore makes 100 million from those evil oil cartels…..

    Irony Alert……

  19. Glenn Beck tried to buy Current TV…but seems Beck didn’t fit the mold for Gore TV….refused to sell to Beck….so the Left TV sells to their fellow travelers, an Islamist Fascist network.

    Sounds about right.

  20. Regardless of the meaning of Spud’s proof, I think Al Jazeera could be a threat to CNN. If they continue the ethos of giving a voice to those not heard and speaking truth to power by way of real hard-hitting journalism, I am all for it! CNN has become complacent and is now seen as a megaphone for the political and corporate establishment. CNN should be challenging the status quo instead of always defending it. CNN has some really talented reporters but they are smothered by bad editorial decisions.

    My only beef – its based out of New York. Ugh, another one. I guess it is a business necessity but they all start thinking and sounding the same.

    capricex, Al Jazeera would be dumb to let CNN snag any of the Vanguard talent. CNN is welcome to have Spitzer back though 😉

  21. “Irony in a lock box.”

    Al, that was hilarious!

    For 100 million bucks, Gore says “I don’t know nuthin’ about no stinkin’ global warming. Climate whaaat?”

  22. Bricko, you should take that racist crap elsewhere. Presuming an entire Arab-based network are terrorists is disgusting.

  23. icemannyr Says:

    So it’s ok to have a news channel that follows republican talking points FOX News Channels, a channel the follows liberal talking points MSNBC and it’s not ok for Al Jazeera to have a channel in the USA because they are going to have a biased agenda.
    It’s ironic when the conservatives on The Five talk about the bias that Al Jazeera is going to have.

  24. I will be checking out the reporters’ head gear.

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