Al Gore's cable network, Current TV, may have reached near 60 million subscribers, but few tuned in and the network lost both on-air personalities and a following. Those results have led to the eventual sale of the network. And of all those companies seeking entry onto cable line-ups in the US, the buyer is Al Jazeera, owned by the government of Qatar.
But as anyone knows who has worked with contracts, changes in ownership, are but one factor that can make a contract null and void. In the world of cable, format changes, programming changes, and other issues can also terminate an agreement. And as cable operators look at their contracts with Current TV, they are now pondering what to do, renegotiate or drop.
Time Warner Cable has already decided that they will not carry the former Current TV, now to be named Al Jazeera America. Will other operators follow suit or will they leave the channel on? Is there even an audience for the network or a concern that the viewpoints will not be well received by a US audience? Current TV had its own troubles competing against bigger cable news networks including CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, BBC, as well as the news arms of our broadcast networks. Given the niche that Al Jazeera brings, it is hard to believe that they will succeed but stranger things do happen. Plus, given the desire of cable operators to lower programming costs, the dropping of the former Current channel adds some economic relief. Who else drops the service from their line-up remains to be seen.