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Al Jazeera buys Al Gore's Current TV

By Kevin Voigt, CNN
January 3, 2013 -- Updated 1630 GMT (0030 HKT)
 Al Gore, and Joel Hyatt, co-founders of Current TV, announced the sale of the network.
Al Gore, and Joel Hyatt, co-founders of Current TV, announced the sale of the network.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Arab television network Al Jazeera says it has acquired Current TV
  • Network -- headquartered in Doha, Qatar -- gains greater access to the U.S. market
  • New U.S.-based channel will provide domestic and international news for U.S. audience
  • Time Warner Cable terminates its agreement with Current TV in wake of the Al Jazeera deal

(CNN) -- The Arab television network Al Jazeera said Wednesday it has acquired Current TV, the U.S. network started by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore.

The buy will give the network -- headquartered in Doha, Qatar -- greater access to the U.S. market.

"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," Al Jazeera Director General Ahmed bin Jassim Al Thani said in a news release. "We look forward to working together with our new cable and satellite partners to serve our new audiences across the U.S."

The new channel, which will provide domestic and international news for a U.S. audience, will be based in New York, with plans to open up new bureaus across the United States and double the network's staff there to more than 300 employees, the network said.

Current TV, co-founded by Gore and businessman Joel Hyatt in 2005, attracted more media attention than ratings in the U.S. with the hiring -- and subsequent firing -- of former MSNBC anchor Keith Olbermann and also the 2009 detention in North Korea of two Current TV journalists. Laura Ling and Euna Lee were arrested and tried in North Korea for illegal entry into the country but were pardoned after former U.S. President Bill Clinton intervened, traveling to North Korea to meet with former leader Kim Jong Il.

"We are proud and pleased that Al Jazeera, the award-winning international news organization, has bought Current TV," said Gore and Hyatt in a press release.

"Since its founding in 2005, Current has grown into a national network available in nearly 60 million homes, offering thought-provoking commentary and Emmy and Peabody award-winning programming. Current Media was built based on a few key goals: To give voice to those who are not typically heard; to speak truth to power; to provide independent and diverse points of view; and to tell the stories that no one else is telling. Al Jazeera, like Current, believes that facts and truth lead to a better understanding of the world around us."

But Current TV never found strong ratings in the U.S. cable market.

For Al Jazeera, the deal will help give it stronger distribution in the U.S. Current is now available via cable and satellite TV through distribution partners Comcast, DirecTV and others.

However, Time Warner Cable -- which runs Current TV in New York and Los Angeles -- has terminated its agreement with Current TV in the wake of the Al Jazeera deal.

CNNMoney's Charles Riley contributed to this report

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