Gore Helped Sell Current TV to al-Jazeera; Beck Deal Dead in '15 Minutes'

Friday, 04 Jan 2013 03:46 PM

By Dale Eisinger

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Former Vice President Al Gore played an active role in the sale of Current TV to al-Jazeera, lobbying distribution partners to make the network all the more valuable to the new owners, The New York Times reported.

As a Current TV co-founder, Gore's take of the $500 million sale was a 20 percent cut, amounting to $100 million.

To ensure the deal would go through, Gore appealed to cable and satellite providers, reminding them that, despite low ratings, contracts stipulated Current TV was a news channel, The New York Times’ Brian Stelter reports.

It was a tactic Gore used when founding the network to ensure its reach into the 40 million homes that it did. This time around, Gore apparently sought to dissuade carriers from negative stereotypes of the Qatari-owned al-Jazeera. It was possible some distributors would say the sale violated contract obligations.

Within hours of the announcement, Time Warner Cable dropped Current TV.

"Our agreement with Current has been terminated and we will no longer be carrying the service. We are removing the service as quickly as possible," said the company, the second-largest cable distributor in the nation.

Al-Jazeera ultimately plans to expand from the 4.7 million viewers it currently reaches in the New York and Washington, D.C., areas into a network called al-Jazeera America.

Gore, a big-hitter in climate-change activism, took heat for the sale because the Qatari family that owns al-Jazeera is heavily funded by oil interests.

Conservative pundit Glenn Beck and his own network, TheBlaze TV, sought to buy Current TV as well, but was rejected because the two companies did not ideologically align.

On Friday, Beck spoke of the issue on his radio show, saying his offer was dismissed "within 15 minutes."

"We were not allowed to the table," Beck said. "He didn't sell to the highest bidder. He looked for, who do I ideologically align with?"

The show's producer, Stu Burguiere, added: "The guy who was vice president of the United States and was 537 votes away from being president during 9/11 is ideologically aligned, by his own definition, with the network that Osama bin Laden went to every time he wanted to get a message out."

However, the research firm PrivCo said the deal also had to do with funds.

"The deep-pocketed Qatari royal family backing al-Jazeera handily outbid any other bidder's rational bid," it said in a note to clients.

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