Current TV

Current TV
Current TV
Current TV's official logo
Launched August 1, 2005
Owned by Current Media, Inc.
Slogan Your World. View.
Headquarters San Francisco, California
DirecTV Channel 358
Dish Network Channel 215
Sky Channel 183
TopTV Channel 406
Virgin Media 155
Comcast Channel 107 or 125
In-House (Washington) Channel 22
Available on most cable systems Check Local Listing for channels
Freewire Channel 178

Current TV, or Current, is a media company led by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and businessman Joel Hyatt. Comcast owns a ten percent stake of Current's parent company, Current Media LLC.[1]

The Current cable television network went on the air in the US at midnight EDT (4:00 UTC) on the morning of August 1, 2005. A second network, operated in the United Kingdom and Ireland started its operation March 12, 2007, for Sky in the UK and Ireland and on Virgin Media in the UK. A third network, operated in Italy started its operation February 8, 2008, for SKY Italia subscribers and later for 3 subscribers. Current TV was launched in South Africa for satellite subscribers on the TopTV platform on 1 May 2010.




After the 2000 U.S. presidential election, Gore and Hyatt wanted to start a conventional cable news network. They were disenchanted with the existing networks.[citation needed] The plan evolved into making a viewer-generated channel aimed at an audience demographic age 18–34.

On May 4, 2004, INdTV Holdings, a company co-founded by Gore and Joel Hyatt, purchased cable news channel NewsWorld International (NWI) from Vivendi Universal for the express purpose of launching their new network with the space on some digital cable lineups (and DirecTV) that NWI had. The new network would not have political leanings, Gore said, but would serve as an "independent voice" for a target audience of people between 18 and 34 "who want to learn about the world in a voice they recognize and a view they recognize as their own."

Other reports said that Gore hoped that the channel would help change the tide of "consolidation and conglomeratization" of the media by leading the change to "democratization." The news network was said to be a combination between CNN, MTV, and blipverts.

In the summer of 2004, Gore and Hyatt announced their new network, named INdTV, with a series of public recruitment events. The first of these events was held at the Bambuddha Lounge in San Francisco's Tenderloin, on August 25.

On April 4, 2005, the former Vice President and business partner Hyatt announced that they had changed the name of the network from INdTV to Current. The new television network launched in the United States on August 1, 2005. Currently, Current is available in 30 million homes nationwide in the US, with plans underway for several international versions.

Yahoo! Current Network

On September 20, 2006, Current TV started a short-lived partnership with Yahoo to supply topic-specific "channels" to the Yahoo Video website. Called the Yahoo! Current Network, the first four channels, "Current Buzz", "Current Traveler" "Current Action" (about action sports) and "Current Driver" quickly became the most popular videos on the Yahoo Video web site. There were Yahoo branded segments on Current TV, similar to the Google Current segments. Additional web channels were planned. However, on December 6, 2006, Yahoo and Current TV announced the end of their relationship.[2] Madeline Smithberg, co-creator of The Daily Show, was the Executive Producer for this project.

On October 6, 2006, a deal was announced with British Sky Broadcasting to create a localized UK and Ireland version of Current TV to its satellite systems in the United Kingdom and Ireland. This version went live on March 12, 2007.[3] The channel launched on Sky EPG number 229 (later moving to 183) and Virgin Media Channel 155 following a refreshed brand identity and advertising campaign developed by Heavenly.[4]

In 2007, Current TV started video-on-demand service on Virgin Media.

On January 31, 2007, Current TV launched on Dish Network.

On September 16, 2007, Current TV won an Emmy award for Best Interactive Television Service at the 59th Primetime Emmy Awards. This was the first year in which this Emmy was presented during the primetime broadcast. The award was presented by Masi Oka of Heroes fame and MySpace founder Tom Anderson (through their own computers), and Al Gore and Joel Hyatt accepted the award on their behalf.[5]

On February 8, 2008, it was announced that the network will be also available on the Italian SKY Italia satellite digital platform on channel 130. According to the official website, broadcast has started on May 8, 2008.[6]

On June 6, 2008, it was announced that the network will be also available on the Italian 3 DVB-H mobile operator, as free of charge.[7]

Current TV partnered with Twitter for the 2008 Presidential and Vice-Presidential debates, allowing viewers watching the Current TV version of the debates to post live on Twitter and have their opinions shown on screen, live.

IPO plans

On 28 January 2009 Current Media Inc, revealed it intended to launch an IPO on the NASDAQ to raise US$100 million (GB£67 million), but it told US regulators over Easter that it was scrapping the plan due to current market conditions.[8] The company added that no securities had been sold and all activity regarding the proposed public offering had been discontinued.[9]

In June 2009, Current TV received approval from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission to establish a Canadian version of the channel, which would be a joint venture of Current TV and the CBC, with the CBC taking 80 percent ownership. The channel would be required to feature at least 35% Canadian content. The new service was planned to begin in fall 2009, pending approval by the Treasury Board,[10] however those plans were put on hold later that year and as of June 2011 there are no plans to bring Current TV to Canada[11]

In July 2009, Current TV, because of financial reasons and the failed IPO abandoned, did a series of changes. CEO Joel Hyatt resigned to a new Vice President position and was replaced by Mark Rosenthal, the former COO and president of MTV Networks, with a plan to reform Current TV to more traditional programing. Lisa Derrick of The Huffington Post predicted that Current TV would undergo a transformation similar to MTV's transformation, during Mark Rosenthal 1990s tenure at MTV, from MTV's multi-minute music video format to longer 30 minute/1 hour reality television programing. Ultimately its assorted pod format was discontinued in lieu of traditional 30 minute block programing. Some elements of the pod format survive inside the themed 30 minute programing. In July 2009, 80 in house staff were laid off, about 25% of Current's staff, and plans were announced to air licensed TV series and films and other content that is not produced by Current in-house or by the VC2 system. Andrew Wallenstein of The Hollywood Reporter predicts Current will make its targeted demographic a decade older from early 20s to early 30s, and add more less-serious entertainment programing to its then mostly news and reality/documentary format.[12][13]

In late 2009, after the announcement of the Comcast-NBC merger, Comcast Corporation submitted a filing to the US Securities and Exchange Commission that revealed it owns a ten percent stake of Current Media LLC.[1] Current received three Emmy nominations in the news and documentary category in 2009.

In mid 2010, Current's Vanguard journalism program's piece, Oxycontin Express received a Peabody Award, a first for both Mariana Van Zellar the journalist behind the story and Current. Current has also received a Headliner award.[14] Around this time, a report by Reuters on the network's ongoing problems suggested that it could have blossomed into something akin to YouTube's video-sharing platform, MSNBC's role as a left-leaning news outlet, or even the Oprah Winfrey Network. "In retrospect," the report concluded, "what's distinctive about Current's troubles was that Gore's vision had so much potential. It's uncanny how close he was to capitalizing on several key trends that transformed the media world, only to watch others do so."[13]

2011 major format changes

Beginning early in 2011, Current TV started implementing major changes in programming and personnel, beginning with the hiring of Keith Olbermann and the re-launch of his former MSNBC Program Countdown. The network is beginning a long series of major program changes and will eventually develop a full schedule of news, opinion, and analysis programming from an independent progressive perspective.

  • On February 8, 2011, Keith Olbermann announced that he had been hired to host a new primetime show on Current TV as well as being named Chief News Officer with an equity stake in the network.
  • In April 2011, Olbermann announced that his nightly program would retain the Countdown with Keith Olbermann title from his time at MSNBC.
  • On June 20, 2011 Keith Olbermann relaunched Countdown with Keith Olbermann on Current TV. The program airs M-F at 8 p.m. ET and is based out of NYC. Olbermann stated on The Colbert Report that Current TV was planning to make a nightly news segment consisting of his show and others that will launch later on Current TV.
  • In August 2011, Current announced that it had hired former CNN Bureau Chief and SVP of Programming David Bohrman as the networks new president. Bohrman later announced that after filling out its prime-time lineup, Current would also gradually begin shifting towards "a full daytime, morning schedule of news, information, analysis, conversation, context -- all based on the events of the day" from an independent, progressive perspective.
  • On September 15, 2011, Current also announced that it had hired Shelley Lewis, former CNN and PBS executive producer, as Executive Vice president of Programming.
  • On September 20, 2011, the network announced that Cenk Uygur of internet-based TYT Network would be launching a TV edition of the internet news program The Young Turks in the 4th quarter of 2011. The program will be based out of Los Angeles and will air M-F at 7 p.m. ET before Countdown.
  • On September 21, 2011, network president David Bohrman named Jason Odell as Executive Vice President of Technology. Odell has an extensive career at both CNN and NBC, most recently known for inventing and implementing CNN's "holographic" technology during election coverage.
  • On October 12, 2011, the network announced that it had hired former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm to host her own weekday prime-time program The War Room with Jennifer Granholm. The program will launch in January 2012 at 9 p.m. ET and will focus on the 2012 election season.
  • On November 10, 2011, Current announced that The Young Turks with Cenk Uygur would premiere on Monday, December 5, at 7 p.m. ET.
Current TV logo 2005-2011


  • Vanguard is Current's in-house journalism department, consisting of a team of young producers and correspondents who specialize in enterprising reporting on global issues.
  • 50 Documentaries to See Before You Die is a five-part series hosted by Morgan Spurlock. [15]
  • Countdown with Keith Olbermann is a nightly news and commentary program broadcast from NYC featuring analysis and opinion on Olbermann's top stories of the day.
  • The Young Turks with Cenk Uygur launches on Monday, December 5, 2011, as a TV edition of the already-popular progressive internet news program. The program will originate from Los Angeles studios.
  • The War Room with Jennifer Granholm launches in January 2012 and will be based out of Current TV headquarters in San Francisco.

In May 2011, Current unveiled new imaging and a new logo.

Prior Programming


2009 imprisonment of journalists by North Korea

The North Korean military detained two American journalists working for Current TV in March 2009 after they allegedly crossed into North Korea from China.[18]

"Two reporters working for a U.S.-based Internet news media outlet, including a Korean American, were detained by North Korean authorities earlier this week, and they remain in custody there," said Yonhap news agency, quoting an unnamed diplomatic source. Reports say that the journalists were both warned several times by the North Korean military, about crossing the border.[19]

The two female journalists are Korean American Euna Lee and Taiwanese American Laura Ling of Current TV based in California in the United States. Lee is the editor of the news for Current TV and Ling is one of the agency's reporters. They were said to have been shooting a video of the border region of China and N. Korea when they were arrested at the Tumen River. Laura Ling is the younger sister of CNN reporter Lisa Ling.

"We're aware of reports that early in the morning of March 17, China time, two American citizens were taken into custody across the Tumen river by what appear to be North Korean border guards. We are working with Chinese government officials in that particular area to ascertain the whereabouts and welfare of the Americans in question. We've also been in touch with North Korean officials to express our concern about the situation," said U.S. State Department spokesman, Fred Lash.

On March 30, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the state news agency of North Korea, reported that preparations were under way for indictments and a trial, saying, "The illegal entry of US reporters into the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) and their suspected hostile acts have been confirmed by evidence and their statements."[20] The two faced trial on June 4.[21]

According to Kim Tae-woo of the Korea Institute for Defense Analysis, “The journalists considerably weakened their government’s leverage against the North,” in ongoing negotiations over the DPRK's nuclear program.[22]

On June 8, Reuters reported that the two reporters were found guilty of illegal entry and committing "hostile acts against the DPRK" and subsequently sentenced to twelve years of hard labor.[23]

Stanford Law professor Allen Weiner said that U.S. citizens are charged with crimes in foreign countries all the time, but: "The difference here is that we have grave doubts whether [the two journalists] have done anything wrong, or whether they were arrested because they were Americans."[24] He added that "now we are finding ourselves asking the North Koreans for something when we were trying to increase international pressure on them. That big stick we're holding just got a lot smaller."[24][25]

On August 4, BBC News reported that they were pardoned amidst a visit by former U.S. president Bill Clinton.[26] They were released and returned home the following day. Upon flying home, they were greeted at an airport in Burbank, California.


  1. ^ a b "How Cable Programming Is ‘Chosen’ — The Implications for Comcast-NBC"., 2010-01-11. Retrieved on 2010-11-08.
  2. ^ Shields, Mike (December 5, 2006). "Yahoo and Current TV Cut Ties".
  3. ^ Unknown title (subscription required)
  4. ^ "Current TV Puts Insights to Use in Brand Extension". 2007-08-27. Retrieved 2010-11-08. 
  5. ^ "Al Gore joins Emmy parade". September 13, 2007.
  6. ^ "Scopri di più su Current TV" (Italian)
  7. ^ "3 Italia: gratis Rai, Mediaset e Current" (Italian) La Stampa. April 6, 2008.
  8. ^ Chris Curtis (14 April, 2009). "Current TV cancels float due to 'market conditions'". Broadcast. Retrieved 22 September 2011. 
  9. ^ Maisie McCabe (14 April 2009). "Al Gore's Current Media abandons plans for NYSE listing". MediaWeek. Retrieved 22 September 2011. 
  10. ^ Staff writers (11 June 2009). "Current TV Receives CRTC Approval". Broadcaster. Retrieved 2 September 2011. 
  11. ^ Staff writers (December 22, 2009). "Current TV's plans to enter Canada on hold". CBC News. Retrieved 22 September 2011. 
  12. ^ Lisa Derrick (November 12, 2009). "Al Gore's Current TV Lays Off 80 Staff, Changes Direction". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 22 September 2011. 
  13. ^ a b Andrew Wallenstein (June 25, 2010). "New troubles at Al Gore's Current TV". Reuters. Reuters. Retrieved 22 September 2011. 
  14. ^ "2008 National Headliner Award Winners". National Headliner Awards. Monday, 04 May 2009. Retrieved 22 September 2011. 
  15. ^ "Current TV Launches Original Series "50 Documentaries to See Before You Die" Premiering on Monday, August 1". May 24, 2011. (press release)
  16. ^ "About Sign of the Times". Archived from the original on 2007-05-07. 
  17. ^ "About Stargazing". Archived from the original on 2007-08-26. 
  18. ^ Laura Ling, Euna Lee Detained In North Korea. Retrieved on 2010-11-08.
  19. ^ Jong, Lee. (2009-03-19) N. Korea tests US over detained reporters. Retrieved on 2010-11-08.
  20. ^ US reporters face N Korea trial.; BBC, March 31, 2009.
  21. ^ "N Korea to try reporters in June". BBC News. 2009-05-14. Retrieved 2009-05-18. 
  22. ^ Sang-Hun, Choe (April 3, 2009). "North Korea Perfects Its Diplomatic Game: Brinkmanship". (The New York Times). Retrieved April 30, 2010. 
  23. ^ Herskovitz, Jon (June 8, 2009). "North Korea sentences U.S. journalists to 12 years". (Reuters). 
  24. ^ a b Garofoli, Joe (June 9, 2009). "Journalists' imprisonment puts U.S. in a bind". Retrieved June 3, 2010. 
  25. ^ Egelko, Bob (August 3, 2009). "U.S. take on detained journalists hypocritical". Retrieved June 3, 2010. 
  26. ^ "North Korea pardons US reporters". BBC News. August 4, 2009. Retrieved April 30, 2010. 

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