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Al Jazeera, the pan-Arab news channel, just made a major step forward in its attempt to break into the American market, acquiring Current TV, the struggling network co-created by former Vice President Al Gore.
While the exact financial terms have not been disclosed, Returers reports that analysts estimate that Al Jazeera spent as much as $500 million on the network. Al Jazeera hopes that its coverage will now be available in 40 million homes.
However, it will have to work without Time Warner Cable, the largest cable provider in the U.S. TWC sent a statement to The Hollywood Reporter confirming that it is dropping the low-rated network. “Our agreement with Current has been terminated and we will no longer be carrying the service...We are removing the service as quickly as possible,” the statement read.
Al Jazeera plans on opening new bureaus in key locations in the U.S. It already has bureaus in Washington, D.C., New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Miami. The company also plans on doubling its number of U.S. staffers to 300.
“For many years, we understood that we could make a positive contribution to the news and information available in and about the United States and what we are announcing today will help us achieve that goal," Ahmed bin Jassim Al Thani, director general of Al Jazeera, said in the announcement. “By acquiring Current TV, Al Jazeera will significantly expand our existing distribution footprint in the US, as well as increase our newsgathering and reporting efforts in America.”
Gore and Joel Hyatt said that they believe Current TV and Al Jazeera share similar goals, which is why they went ahead with the sale. “Al Jazeera has the same goals and, like Current, believes that facts and truth lead to a better understanding of the world around us,” they said.
Current TV was founded in 2005, but failed to draw any kind of audience. In 2011, it signed former MSNBC commentator Keith Olbermann for $50 million, but the network and Olbermann had a falling out in 2012 and he left. The two are still in court after Olbermann sued and it countersued.