Al Jazeera on Wednesday announced a deal to take over Current TV, the low-rated cable channel that was founded by Al Gore, a former vice president, and his business partners seven years ago. Al Jazeera plans to shut Current and start an English-language channel, which will be available in more than 40 million homes, with newscasts emanating from both New York and Doha, Qatar.
For Al Jazeera, which is financed by the government of Qatar, the acquisition is a coming of age moment. A decade ago, Al Jazeera's flagship Arabic-language channel was reviled by American politicians for showing videotapes from Al Qaeda members and sympathizers. Now the news operation is buying an American channel, having convinced Mr. Gore and the other owners of Current that it has the journalistic muscle and the money to compete head-to-head with CNN and other news channels in the United States.
Although Gore tried mightily to seal the deal before 2013 to avoid higher taxes, he was unable to do so. And now billionaire Democrat Gore, who couldn't avail himself of tax loopholes unavailable to mere thousandaires, will have to pay his fair shares of taxes.
Al Jazeera did not disclose the purchase price, but people with direct knowledge of the deal pegged it at around $500 million, indicating a $100 million payout for Mr. Gore, who owned 20 percent of Current. 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.
Al Jazeera is based in and financed by the Muslim country of Qatar; the new Al Jazeera America will call New York home with bureaus in other cities.
Update from Thimas Lifson:
According to Glennbeck.com:
Late Wednesday, Brian Stelter with the New York Times broke the news that Al Jazeera would be acquiring progressive cable news network Current TV. Al Jazeera had been seeking entry into the U.S. market, and the deal will allow them to put their own programming on in place of Current on televisions across the country. But the Wall Street Journal has uncovered an interesting piece of information: Glenn Beck and TheBlaze TV tried to purchase the network and were rejected.network Current TV. Al Jazeera had been seeking entry into the U.S. market, and the deal will allow them to put their own programming on in place of Current on televisions across the country.Al Gore, the anti-carbon crusader, is pulling a hundred million bucks in from an oil and natural gas producer. But we already knew he is a hypocrite.
The Wall Street Journal reports:
Mr. Hyatt said they agreed to sell to Al Jazeera in part because "Al Jazeera was founded with the same goals we had for Current," including "to give voice to those whose voices are not typically heard" and "to speak truth to power." Other suitors who didn't share Current's ideology were rebuffed. Glenn Beck's The Blaze approached Current about buying the channel last year, but was told that "the legacy of who the network goes to is important to us and we are sensitive to networks not aligned with our point of view," according to a person familiar with the negotiations.Based on Hyatt's quote, the owners of Current TV didn't want Glenn to purchase Current TV and put TheBlaze in millions of home across the country because they didn't agree with his point of view. They must not feel the same way about Al Jazeera, a news organization that ran an op-ed comparing Glenn to a terrorist.