Al Jazeera is acquiring San Francisco-based Current TV in a deal that will boost its US distribution to 40 million homes.
The Qatar-based network said that with the acquisition it plans to create Al Jazeera America, a US-based news channel. Al Jazeera’s coverage will soon be available in more than 40 million US households, up from 4.7 million prior to the deal.
In a statement, Current Media founders and owners Al Gore and Joel Hyatt said: “Current TV was built based on a few key goals: 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.
“Al-Jazeera has the same goals and, like Current, believes that facts and truth lead to a better understanding of the world around us.”
“For many years, we understood that we could make a positive contribution to the news and information available in and about the United States and what we are announcing today will help us achieve that goal,” Ahmed bin Jassim Al Thani, director general of Al Jazeera, said in a statement.
“By acquiring Current TV, Al Jazeera will significantly expand our existing distribution footprint in the US, as well as increase our newsgathering and reporting efforts in America.”
For the past few years, the Doha-based news channel has been struggling to get wide distribution in the US. The agreement to buy Current TV will give access to a potential audience of 40 million US homes out of a total of 100 million DTH and cable homes in the country.
Al Jazeera will create a new channel based in New York. Potentially called Al Jazeera America, roughly 60% of the programming will be produced in the United States, while the remaining 40% will come from Al Jazeera English.
In addition to the existing Al Jazeera news bureaux in New York, Washington, DC, Los Angeles, Miami and Chicago, Al Jazeera will open additional bureaux in key locations across the United States. It will also double its US-based staff to more than 300 employees.
Its current distribution includes carriages on platforms such as DirecTV, Comcast, Dish Network, Verizon, and AT&T. It remains to be seen if the current distribution deals will stay in place. US reports suggest that Time Warner Cable has already removed Current TV from its network.