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Posts Tagged ‘Joel Hyatt’

Al Jazeera Weighs Its Options, As It Completes Current TV Acquisition

The deal is done. Al Jazeera has completed its acquisition of Current TV, and will re-brand the channel after a transition period from Current TV.

The new channel will not be Al Jazeera English, the company’s English-language news outlet, but rather a new, U.S.-based network. The channel is tentatively being called Al Jazeera America, but a source close to the company says that it isn’t wedded to the name, and may try to create a new brand. One of the options being considered, according to our source, is calling the channel “beIN,” or “beIN News,” to make it mesh with Al Jazeera’s beIN Sport network, which already has some U.S. distribution.

The impetus for the fresh name would stem from Al Jazeera’s brand in the U.S., which, while strong with journalists in New York and DC, is decidedly mixed across the rest of the country.

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NY Times: Al Jazeera Finalizing Deal To Acquire Current TV

Qatar-based Al Jazeera is in final negotiations to acquire Current TV, the cable channel co-founded and operated by former Vice President Al Gore and his business partner Joel Hyatt, according to Brian Stelter in the New York Times. Current TV has distribution in 60 million homes, giving Al Jazeera a large and immediate U.S. footprint

The result will be a new channel, not simply a simulcast of Al Jazeera English, the company’s English-language cable news outlet. As for Current TV’s current slate of staffers and shows, the future remains unclear, but likely grim.

Rather than simply use Current to distribute its existing English-language channel, called Al Jazeera English and based in Doha, Qatar, Al Jazeera will create a new channel based in New York, according to people with knowledge of the deal negotiations. Potentially called Al Jazeera America, roughly 60 percent of the programming will be produced in the United States while the remaining 40 percent will come from Al Jazeera English.

Al Jazeera may absorb some Current TV staff members, according to the people, who insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. But Current’s schedule of shows will most likely be dissolved in the spring.

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Current TV Is Up For Sale

The New York Post‘s Claire Atkinson and Emily Smith report that Current TV is up for sale. The network is seeking out a company that can help guide any prospective inquiries, according to a statement from Current CEO Joel Hyatt.

“Current has been approached many times by media companies interested in acquiring our company,” CEO Joel Hyatt told The Post. “This year alone, we have had three inquiries. As a consequence, we thought it might be useful to engage expertise to help us evaluate our strategic options.”

Current has struggled mightily in the ratings, even with its coverage of the political conventions and Presidential debates. The channel re-branded as a liberal talk network with the addition of Keith Olbermann last year, and his show was the channel’s highest-rated. Since Olbermann was fired by Current earlier this year, none of its primetime shows have been able to click with viewers.

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Current TV Counter-Sues Keith Olbermann

As expected (again) Current TV has counter-sued Keith Olbermann, laying out its argument that it was Olbermann who was in breach of contract, and not network executives.

Just as Olbermann portrayed Current executives in a negative light in his filing, Current paints Olbermann as an ego-maniacal jerk in its filing.

Current argues that Olbermann refused to promote the network or its shows, and would order staff not to promote “Countdown” when he wasn’t anchoring. It also pulled some embarrassing emails and events from Olbermann’s tenure at the network. After a picture of the “Countdown” set leaked to the press by the designer, Olbermann asked Current CEO Joel Hyatt “Can you assassinate him, please?” Another incident saw Olbermann throw a glass mug against the wall of the studio, shattering it.

The full suit is embedded after the jump.

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Keith Olbermann Sues Current, Current Responds

As expected, former Current TV host Keith Olbermann filed suit against his former employer, and he minces no words in the complaint, calling the executives at the channel “dilettantes” and going into detail about the technical problems that are known to have plagues his program. The lawsuit took aim squarely at Current’s CEO Joel Hyatt, who it painted as unprofessional and unprepared.

The lawsuit also alleges that Current promised Olbermann editorial control over his program’s website, but that shortly after hiring him signed a new distribution deal with an MSO that restricted the amount of material Current could put online.

Olbermann’s full complaint is embedded after the jump.

In a statement responding to the lawsuit, Current was equally harsh, saying that the facts are on its side, and ending by saying “We hope Mr. Olbermann understands that when it comes to the legal process, he is actually required to show up.”

The Current statement is also after the jump. Update: Current has responded with a suit of its own, also after the jump.

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Current TV Fires Keith Olbermann, Replaces Him With Eliot Spitzer

It was just over a year ago that former MSNBC host Keith Olbermann announced he was joining Current TV, and today, that relationship officially came to an end. According to the New York TimesBrian Stelter, Olbermann is out at Current, and will be replaced by former CNN host and New York Governor Eliot Spitzer. Spitzer will take over the 8 PM slot starting  tonight.

Update: Current CEO Joel Hyatt and co-founder Al Gore released a statement about the move.

Current was also founded on the values of respect, openness, collegiality, and loyalty to our viewers. Unfortunately these values are no longer reflected in our relationship with Keith Olbermann and we have ended it.

The full letter is after the jump.

Update 2: Olbermann has released his own statement via Twitter, saying that he plans to file suit against the network.

I’d like to apologize to my viewers and my staff for the failure of Current TV. Editorially, Countdown had never been better. But for more than a year I have been imploring @AlGore and @JoelHyatt to resolve our issues internally,while I’ve been not publicizing my complaints, and keeping the show alive for the sake of its loyal viewers and even more loyal staff. Nevertheless, Mr. Gore and Mr. Hyatt, instead of abiding by their promises and obligations and investing in a quality news program, finally thought it was more economical to try to get out of my contract. It goes almost without saying that the claims against me in Current’s statement are untrue and will be proved so in the legal actions I will be filing against them presently.

Olbermann’s full statement is after the jump.

Olbermann famously announced that he would be leaving his MSNBC program on a Friday night last January. He inked a deal with Current soon thereafter.

Olbermann was given an equity stake in Current as part of his deal. It is not yet clear whether he will retain that stake, or whether Current will buy him out.

In an interview with mediabistro.com earlier this month, Hyatt hinted that the network would be adding more former public officials to Current’s lineup, such as Spitzer:

We’re going to look for practitioners of public policy, like Jennifer Granholm. We’ll soon be naming others in that category, people who have actually done the hard work of public service and who are very committed to it, who understand it from the inside. They know spin when they hear it; they know BS when they hear it; they can stand up to it because they’ve been there and done that.

The announcement of Spitzer’s new show is also after the jump.

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Joel Hyatt: Current Adding More Former Public Officials To Lineup

Current TV CEO Joel Hyatt is the subject of this week’sSo What Do You Do?” He talks about the Keith Olbermann situation, and moving from a user-generated channel to a channel predicated on politics. Hyatt discusses what the channel is looking for in on-air talent, and hints that some more former elected officials may be joining the channel in some capacity soon:

We’re going to look for budding journalists, young journalists who we think are really smart with a bright future, get them on Current. We’re going to look for practitioners of public policy, like Jennifer Granholm. We’ll soon be naming others in that category, people who have actually done the hard work of public service and who are very committed to it, who understand it from the inside. They know spin when they hear it; they know BS when they hear it; they can stand up to it because they’ve been there and done that. So, we’re going to have a mixture. And really the exciting part of building what we’re building is finding really talented people who have important things to say and giving them a platform to do that.

Who do you think the talent will be? Let us know in the comments. Read the entire ‘So What Do You Do? interview here.

Here We Go Again: Olbermann, Current TV Clash

It was just under a year ago that Keith Olbermann left MSNBC in dramatic fashion. Now the primetime host is once again having issues with his employer, this time in the form of Current TV.

The latest developments: Olbermann’s lawyer, Hollywood power attorney Patty Glaser (who repped Conan O’Brien during his battle with NBC) is negotiating with Current TV, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Exactly what those negotiations entail is a mystery for now.

The New York Times reports that the issue at hand is one of control. When Olbermann joined Current, he was given equity in the channel, as well as the title of chief news officer. Since then Current added a president in David Bohrman, and Joel Hyatt took over as CEO. In addition, Olbermann’s “Countdown” has suffered from technical snafus, issues beyond the control of him or his staff.

Next week is the New Hampshire primary, and unlike Iowa, Olbermann may be at the center of Current’s coverage:

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Current TV CEO: ‘Our Three Competitors are About Breaking News, and We’re About Fixing It’

For Current TV, the addition of former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm to the primetime lineup was an easy decision.

“When Joel [Hyatt] and I sat down with her and sort of began a conversation, we were blown away at the way she lit up the room and, frankly, took charge,” Current TV President David Bohrman said on a conference call announcing the show Wednesday afternoon.

Granholm’s “The War Room” is the finishing touch, at least for now, on a primetime schedule that includes Cenk Uygur at 7 p.m.ET/PT and Keith Olbermann at 8 p.m.ET/CT. Bohrman called it “the best primetime lineup, starting this January going into the election year, that can be found on television.”

“Our three competitors are about breaking news, and we’re about fixing it,” Current TV CEO Joel Hyatt added. “We believe we’re going to have the intelligent, insightful, experienced commentators who can do that. And all the early signals are that there’s a large audience waiting for it.” Read more

Cenk Uygur On Joining Current TV: ‘It was the most obvious thing in the world’

Earlier today, Current TV announced that former MSNBC host Cenk Uygur would be bringing his web series “The Young Turks” to the channel. In a interview this afternoon, Uygur said the move was something of a no-brainer:

“It was the most obvious thing in the world,” Uygur told TVNewser. “They are independent, so I knew we wouldn’t have some of the issues we had in other places, and they are clearly progressive.”

Uygur also says that serving as Current’s primetime kickoff show is a good place to be:

“I am happy to be at 7 o clock because there is no other progressive at 7 o clock on television, so it kind of leaves the field to me,” he says

Fox News has Shepard Smith at 7 PM, CNN will soon launch Erin Burnett in that timeslot, and MSNBC has a replay of the apparently-not progressive “Hardball with Chris Matthews” there.

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