Al-Jazeera buys Current TV from Al Gore

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Al-Jazeera, the Pan-Arab news channel that struggled to win space on American cable television, has acquired Current TV, boosting its reach nearly ninefold to about 40 million homes. With a focus on U.S. news, it plans to rebrand the left-leaning news network that cofounder Al Gore couldn’t make relevant.

The former vice president confirmed the sale Wednesday, saying in a statement that Al-Jazeera shares Current TV’s mission “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.”

The acquisition lifts Al-Jazeera’s reach beyond a few large U.S. metropolitan areas including New York and Washington, where about 4.7 million homes can now watch Al-Jazeera English.

Al-Jazeera, owned by the government of Qatar, plans to gradually transform Current into a new channel called Al-Jazeera America by adding five to 10 new U.S. bureaus beyond the five it has now and hiring more journalists.

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However, Al Jazeera’s attempt to gain more viewership in the US suffered an early setback after Time Warner Cable said it would stop carrying Current TV following the ownership change.

Time Warner, the second biggest cable company in the US, said it had already been looking to remove channels with low ratings, and this acquisition gave it the ability to cancel its contract.

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