9 a.m. Friday Good piece by the Balitmore Sun TV writer David Durawik on why Al Jazeera buying Current a great thing–and rights wrong of keeping Al Jazeera English off the air for so long.
3 p.m. Thursday: Amid a flood of complaints (see below) after it hastily dropped Current TVlast night, Time Warner Cable now says it is “open” to carrying the new Al Jazeera America. Current’s current hosts (Spitzer, Behar, Granholm) have not been told where the now stand.
9 p.m. Thursday Full update from Reuters on Al Jazeera’s coming issues in getting distribution–though, like Fox early on, it could pay to get on cable systems rather than get money for that at first. NYT editorial tonight backs Al Jazeera’s move, saying doubts about its “independence” (since its owned by Qatar government) do not outweigh what it can provide.
Brian Stelter of The New York Times had it first late yesterday: Al Jazeera, which has long sought a bigger footprint in this country, would buy—and shut down—struggling Current TV, founded seven years ago by Al Gore and partners, and launch its own major cable operation here, reaching a possible 40 million new viewers.
The price is reportedly half a billion with Gore himself netting 20 percent of that. Stelter updated his report today with this: “Mr. Gore and his partners were eager to complete the deal by Dec. 31, lest it be subject to higher tax rates that took effect on Jan. 1, according to several people who insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. But the deal was not signed until Wednesday.”
The new channel will be called Al Jazeera America.
Of course, barbs about this on Twitter began immediately, with the new channel referred to as “Al Gorezeera” and right-wing sites cackling over the former vice president and climate change prophet’s netting millions from Saudi oil interests (Al Jazeera is financed by the government of Qatar). The deal is no joke, but it has much to overcome.