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The financially-strapped, viewer-deprived Current TV cable network founded by former Vice President Al Gore this week announced it will be purchased by Al-Jazeera.
According to articles by NPR.org and The Huffington Post, the Qatari government-funded network plans to operate Al-Jazeera America from New York-based headquarters. The Arab-language news operation, based in Qatar, already offers Al-Jazeera English, which is available in Washington, D.C. and New York City, but scarcely accessible in the U.S.
Buoyed by its acquisition of Current TV, which reaches approximately 60 million homes through cable or satellite service, Al-Jazeera America plans to bolster its staff to 300 and open bureaus nationwide to join its current operations in New York, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Miami and Los Angeles, according to the NPR report.
Although Al-Jazeera English will provide some programming, more than half of the network's shows will be produced in the U.S. The transition, however, may not be as smooth as the Qatari news operation may have hoped. The Huffington Post reported today that Time Warner Cable ("TWC"), which has carried the ratings-starved Current TV to roughly 12 million homes, will not make Al-Jazeera America available to its subscribers. The TWC decision was condemned as politically motivated and an act of cowardice by the founding director of the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at Arizona State University.
However, according to a tweet by a New York Times reporter, Al-Jazeera America is likely to benefit from Current TV's arrangement with other carriers, including Comcast, DirecTV, Verizon, A T&T and Dish.