Al Gore said on Tuesday that tough competition from major U.S. television networks forced him to sell Current TV, a struggling progressive cable channel, to Al Jazeera, and he praised the Arabic news broadcaster’s coverage of climate change.
Gore, a former vice president who won a Nobel Peace Prize for raising awareness about the problems with climate change, said on NBC’s “Today” show that he was proud of the channel and had never thought of it as simply a monetary investment.
“As an independent network … we found it difficult to compete in this age of conglomerates,” he said.
Earlier this month, Qatar-based Al Jazeera announced it was buying Current TV, a move that could enable it to better compete with American news networks like CNN, MSNBC and Fox.
Al Gore’s Current TV has bigger problems to deal with than a potential lawsuit from fired news anchor Keith Olbermann - namely not getting kicked off Time Warner Cable for low ratings.
According to three sources with knowledge of the situation, Time Warner Cable Inc’s carriage agreement with Current TV stipulates that, if the left-leaning political news network fails to meet a minimum threshold for overall viewers in a given quarter, financial penalties such as Current TV being required to increase marketing and promotion spending on the cable operator’s systems are triggered.
If Current TV misses the audience benchmark in two consecutive quarters, another clause is triggered that would allow Time Warner Cable to drop the channel. The condition was built into the most recent distribution pact between the two parties, which was signed in 2010.
If it was not for Olbermann’s show, which averaged a total of 177,000 viewers per night, Current TV likely would have missed Time Warner Cable’s viewership benchmark, said one of the sources.