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Current TV's cuts acknowledge a strategy that didn't catch fire

Less than three months after taking over as chief executive of Current TV, former MTV Networks President Mark Rosenthal has decided the network's short-form programming approach is a non-starter. The cable channel, which was founded by Al Gore and got national attention last summer when two of its reporters were held and later released by North Korea, has laid off almost 25% of its staff and is changing its programming strategy.

Gone is programming chief David Neuman, who had been with Current since it launched in 2005. Another 80 staffers are also leaving the network, primarily in its Los Angeles production facilities. Current is available in about 55 million homes worldwide.

When Current was in development, Gore said he was targeting the ages 18-to-34 demographic with a goal of connecting "the Internet generation with television in a brand new way." The network's strategy was to rely heavily on content that would be generated by its audience.

Now, though, the channel is going with a more traditional format of half-hour and hourlong news shows. It is also scaling back on its in-house productions and will look to acquire shows. Current Chief Operating Officer Joanna Drake Earl said she thinks the network "can build a bigger audience with more traditional formats." She added that the moves had nothing to do with the financial health of the network. Current, she said, will have earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of more than $10 million this year.

The network, which was acquired for $70 million from Vivendi by an investment group headed by Al Gore and entrepreneur Joel Hyatt, has struggled to grow its distribution. Part of the problem, besides a lack of popular shows, is that it is not part of a bigger media company that has leverage to build its reach.

-- Joe Flint

Related Post: Current cuts 80 jobs and will reformat network

Comments () | Archives (7)

AlGore is growing rich off of his green energy Ponzi scheme, in fact he might become a billionaire once the government begins subsidizing cap and trade. So why doesn't the great and benevolent AlGore transfer some of his own personal wealth to his failing media venture to save the jobs of the 80 people who are being let go? In these tough economic times that would be the compassionate thing to do. Oh wait, the compassionate lefties only like to redistribute the wealth of the taxpayers not their own.

"connecting "the Internet generation with television in a brand new way.""

We already had this in 2005. It was called YouTube.

What was so innovative about that, Al? From where did you derive your business model, Soviet era television?

Uh so this begs the question of what the rating at Current are? I have never heard of anyone watching the channel.

Do they even have measurable ratings? I wouldnt be surprised if its <20,000 for most of the day.

I watched current a few times it was mostly left wing propaganda, and the predictably myth that global warming is a man made problem.

The best thing current tv has is on YouTube. I tried to watch it a couple of times after Greta went off, and it was just like someone else said, left-wing bs.

Hey, you want to make money? How about a real debate on climate change. You know, real scientists, using real data, not that made up to fit the scenario data by government scientists (who couldn't get a real job) and Al Gore and his cronies. Quit using the internet to get your data and then manipulate it only to find out that you got it from a poser. There is so much material out there. How about showing Not Evil, Just Wrong. You know, real people, real scientists, those that worked in climate change and saw the fraud, man you could get rich just telling the freaking truth. THINK ABOUT IT.


The concept was flawed from the start yes. But they didnt know that then. YouTube went were Current was meant to.
Then they sidelined themselves with stuff that was at times a bit up its own ass - too much art etc. But it had a handful of good original shows and great moments.

For the people saying it was left wing propaganda - please.
You're hilarious and make yourself look even more absurd when you deny the evidence of climate change. Stick with Fox News.

A big part of the reason that Current's programming is so weak is that they don't want to pay anything for content. They cry poor and posture as though they're a charitable organization or something. But they're obviously not, it's a con, so established producers don't want to work with them and they end up with a lot of quasi-amateur content from people who are just happy to have something on television.


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