Current TV, the cable news network co-founded by Al Gore and Joel Hyatt, started out as a user-generated content, and went through several pivots before it decided to sell itself…to Al Jazeera.
Al Jazeera is a Doha-based network that gained prominence in the Middle East during the last decade—in particular the Arab Spring, being a credible journalistic voice in a propaganda-laced region of the world. It then launched Al Jazeera English, with limited distribution in the United States. The Current TV acquisition hands them a distribution channel to expand their presence to 40 million homes.
Al Jazeera has been a controversial presence in the eyes of some Westerners who saw the network as a shill for Middle Eastern propaganda or as The New York Times reports, “something more sinister.”
The reality might be that Al Jazeera may be much more of an unbiased, and journalistic venture than many of the political-leaning “news” channels in the States.
Al Jazeera plans to shut Current and replace it with Al Jazeera America—based in New York. The network is financed by the government of Qatar. The New York Times is reported that the purchase price may be around $500 million.
The distribution of the channel into 40 million U.S. homes is a boon for Al Jazeera, although viewership and maintaining (and growing) that number are not guaranteed. The expansion of the network will be a telling example of American’s appetite for a true, unbiased global view on news. One of the largest distributors, Time Warner Cable has already announced that will not be carrying the new network, saying, “We are removing the service as quickly as possible.”
If Al Jazeera succeeds in gaining a strong presence in cable news it will be on the backs of strong, credible journalism on the part of the network, and a desire for an unbiased world view on the part of Americans.
Source: The New York Times