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With Al-Jazeera acquiring Current TV, the network launched by former Vice President Al Gore, they’re stepping in the lives of American TV audiences in a big way.
Current TV is right now available in about 60 million homes with cable or satellite services, according to The Times. Al-Jazeera is a Qatar-based Arabic language channel that already has and operates Al-Jazeera English. The new channel Al-Jazeera America, will be based out of New York.
Co-founder Joel Hyatt sent a memo out when the sale of the channel was confirmed on Tuesday that stated, “Al [Gore] and I are thrilled and proud to announce that a few moments ago Current was acquired by Al Jazeera, the award winning international news organization.
When considering the several suitors who were interested in acquiring Current, it became clear to us that Al Jazeera was founded with the same goals we had for Current: to give voice to those whose voices are not typically heard; to speak truth to power; to provide independent and diverse points of view; and to tell the important stories that no one else is telling.”
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Following suit, Al-Jazeera Director General Ahmed bin Jassim Al Thani in a statement said, “By acquiring Current TV, Al-Jazeera will significantly expand our existing distribution footprint in the U.S., as well as increase our newsgathering and reporting efforts in America.”
But the sale doesn’t mean quick entry into American homes. As soon as confirmation that ownership had exchanged hands, came the news of Time Warner Cable dropped the channel. TWC is the largest distributor of Current TV and offered it in about 10 million homes – without it, Current TV is in only about 50 million homes.
The cable carrier released a statement on Wednesday; the same day the sale of it was finalized, that it is terminating its carriage agreement with Current “as quickly as possible.”
"Our agreement with Current has been terminated and we will no longer be carrying the service," a Time Warner Cable spokeswoman told TheWrap in a statement. "We are removing the service as quickly as possible."
Joel Hyatt, the co-founder, confirmed it via his memo to the staff too. Time Warner Cable, “did not consent to the sale to Al-Jazeera”, it stated. “Consequently, Current will no longer be carried on TWC… This is unfortunate, but I am confident that Al Jazeera America will earn significant additional carriage in the months and years ahead.”
Twitter led the reaction to TWC dropping Current TV, where some of the people termed the move ‘cowardice’.
Time-Warner cable shows abject political and journalistic cowardice by dropping Current because of Al Jazeera deal. owl.li/guPg6— Dan Gillmor (@dangillmor) January 3, 2013
Time Warner Cable's pithy goodbye to Current: Our agreement "has been terminated... We are removing the service as quickly as possible."— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) January 3, 2013
@brianstelter did TWC cance because Al Jazeera bought Current, or would that agreement have been terminated anyway?— Julia C. Reinhart (@juliacreinhart) January 3, 2013
If you call Time Warner Cable to complain that they stopped Al Jazeera they make you speak to a representative in America— Matt Goldich (@MattGoldich) January 3, 2013
@twc shout out to you for your racism congrats about being everything that’s wrong with America.— Ty Ledford (@Iskaros93) January 3, 2013
Al-Jazeera director general Ahmed bin Jassim Al Thani echoed it and said, that “U.S. viewers have clearly demonstrated that they like the way Al Jazeera provides compelling, in-depth news to audiences across the world. Everyone at Al Jazeera takes great pride in the independence, impartiality, professionalism and courage of our journalism.”
The website for Al-Jazeera America is up, however there is no launch date.