Said Hyatt of the deal that brought Olbermann to Current TV: “We reached out to Keith, thinking that if he were ever available, we would love to have him,” Hyatt said. “He has ardent fans and he built MSNBC with Countdown when no one watched MSNBC. He changed that.”
Olbermann said he’s now out to prove he’s not crazy for joining a much smaller network.
“What Current has done in the past five years is a record-setting pace,” Olbermann said. “This isn’t a startup. This isn’t starting from scratch. This is a company with a large footprint. That’s the reason the decision was so easy to make. We’re in a time, as Joel said, when corporations are looking at news product that needs to be maximized—and they do that by cutting the reporting. They presented an opportunity to make money, while making the level of corporate influence about zero.”
Olbermann also mentioned that he gets pretty much total control over his show on Current. He recalled that he told Hyatt and Al Gore (Current’s other co-founder) that he wanted to write his own intro, and handed them a laptop with a rough draft typed out.
“We hired you; we know what we’re getting—we don’t need to see it in advance,” Gore responded.
The company is currently privately held. Hyatt mentioned at the conference that there are no plans for an IPO at this time.
“We have no problems with accessing capital and we see no value in going public,” Hyatt said. “Plus, if we were going to file for an IPO, we’d have to release how much we’re paying Olbermann.”
“You don’t want to do that,” Olbermann said.