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Al Gore’s Current TV Launches

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Current TV, a new television network that seeks to bridge the gap between the Internet and television news, launches Monday under the backing of former Vice President Al Gore.

Mixing short, quick-hit segments called “pods” with up-to-the-minute news popping off the Internet, Current TV seeks to become the Google News of the cable television universe.

AP Television Writer David Bauder writes:

Most of its programming will be in “pods,” roughly two to seven minutes long, covering topics like jobs, technology, spirituality and current events. An Internet-like on-screen progress bar will show the pod’s length.

Its short films include a profile of a hang glider and a piece on working in a fish market. One contributor talked about what it was like to have his phone number on a hacked Internet list of Paris Hilton’s cell phone contacts, saying that dealing with curiosity seekers was like “hosting your own radio call-in show.”

Every half-hour, Current promises a news update using data from Google on news stories most frequently searched for on the Web.

The phenomena of having an on-screen countdown, showing the audience what they are watching and what is coming up, was pioneered by such shows as ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption and, more recently, by The Situation, MSNBC’s new “cutting edge” news program hosted by bow-tie wearing conservative pundit Tucker Carlson.

Al Gore’s involvement and purchase of what was Newsworld International channel is sure to get the fledgling network at least some initial interest and attention, but the real trick will be the consistent production of high-quality and interesting content.

Making a play for young people, by way of a high-tech format and the solicitation for user-generated video pieces, is a risky one. But there is certainly a market niche out there for a network that can bypass the traditional notion of what television news is, as can be evidenced by the wild popularity of “fake news” source The Daily Show, on Comedy Central, which is often cited by young people as keeping it more real, as it is said, than the “real” news.

While many had hoped that Al Gore’s involvement in a television news network would herald the creation of a counter-balance to conservative-leaning Fox News Channel, Gore is quick to point out that Current TV is intended to be non-partisan.

“I think the reality of the network will speak for itself,” he told reporters in Los Angeles two weeks ago. “It’s not intended to be partisan in any way and not intended to be ideological.”

Hopefully, Current TV will emerge into a vibrant, fresh-faced, and – most desperately and urgently – independent media source for hard and fast-hitting news on television.

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  • I always roll my eyes when I hear a politician discuss ‘non-partisan’ intentions. We will see. Maybe the former VP is on to something here.

  • Yeah, it should be interesting. I was actually hoping this venture would directly challenge Fox News as a center-left 24/7 news network. My thought was that this station, along with Air America, could one day counter the conservative media machine that very successfully dominates the news cycle and has helped, in part, to install Republican control of the White House and Congress.

  • I watched the fitst couple of hours of Connect and it is a total abortion. “Hip” kids sitting around drinking martinis and using “hip” slang to talk about “hip” tech. At one point, after coming back from a slap-dash “pod” about being young in Iran, we join a sleepy-looking, sexed up tart lounging around. The camera does that music video thing of moving in and moving out. The host says, in that fake-sultry/bored manner, lips drenched with gloss “wow, I never knew there weren’t gays in Iran” and it is obvious that she could care less.

    Why do we need another MTV? This self-conscious crap will not fill any void on cable TV. In fact, by dumping NWI, it has removed the only source of non-partisian, non-propagandizing news on my cable system.

  • What’s the propaganda, to become a disaffected slacker?

    I don’t think you can judge based upon the first day on the air. Let’s see what’s happening in six months.

    By the way: I like some of MTV’s documentary stuff — I think it’s relatable to the youngsters. Some of it’s terrible (Drew Barrymore crying because young people don’t vote comes to mind) but that’s the case with everything, isn’t it?

  • Wayne Howdeshell

    Bring back Newsworld International. It was informative, unbiased, thoughtfully edited, and the best news source on TV. Now we have “pods” hosted by young people who talk down to us and flash snippets of pop culture. Go away Current!

  • billy

    where is this station available?

    if this is a non-partisan station by gore, its probably a mistake. his partisan views are the thing gore offers, at least it should have a slightly left, if not obvious bias.

  • Well, it’s not Gore’s personal television station. He just got a group of investors together to get it going.

    It’s available in about 20 million homes right now, but they’re looking to up that ASAP.

  • CBC Fan

    The loss of Newsworld International is a tragedy. What does it say about our culture that NWI is replaced by a MTV style News video channel. What a sad day this is.

  • I don’t think it’s a sad day if the new station can get kids and teens interested in the news and what’s going on in the world.

    Hopefully, the content will be decent. I haven’t seen it, so I can’t really comment on it.

  • NPR did a story on this recently, about how they were originally going to be very indie — IndieTV — but have become infested by suits as the launch date drew near.

    I understand why people are disappointed, but frankly, it has a better chance of making it without so much of the indie stuff.

  • BUzz

    The loss of NWI on DirecTV is very sad. Current TV is really dull. The Talent between segments look like thye are trying so hard not to be bored and appear interested, yet come of disingenuous. The segments are not news worthy with whats going on in the world, and they repeat so often.

    Can you say Flop? I can’t see how they are going to make any money with this, and that will lead to its demise.

  • I think you need to give it more time. News networks take years to develop and mature.

  • I also mourn the loss of Newsworld International. We much preferred watching ITV news at 6:30 every night instead of the US network news.

    I watched a bit of Current TV and was not impressed. To be fair, I am not in the demographic they’re aiming for, (I am 49) but it sounds like whatever they’re offering, their intended audience can find online. And I’m skeptical about the viewer supplied content. Sounds like they’ll be showing a lot of shaky camera amature documentaries on topics of no interest to anyone but the friends of the people who submitted them.

    I can’t see Current TV going anywhere but off the air.

  • Hann

    I’ve never realized what a decent program like NWI can do to me… more than a week without NWI, without access to other part of the world, I feel like my window been shut off without the daylight, literally….I feel suffocating !!!

    In some way, if the current TV going off air, the sacrifice of NWI will be worthless……..what a shame !!!

  • AJ Alabasterd

    I predict that CURRENT will be able to eke out a full year of operation, but will certainly shut down soon after that. There’s nothing special about it, and as a “premium” channel, no one is going to pay extra to their cable provider when they can get MTV for free.

  • maggie

    I loved NWI. I loved the international news!!! I feel lost without it. I tried watching Current tv. All I can say is …
    G A W D get it off the air!!! NOW PLEAZZZZ !!!!!

  • General consensus is running about 90-10 to kick Al Gore off TV and bring back internat’l news at this point…

  • Well all I can say is NWI is definitly missed. It was a totally unique window on the world for all us Americans. I am a conservative republican, I love Fox News for American news content, but I must admit Fox, CNN, or MSNBC has almost no international news to speak of. I feel lost without my NWI, I enjoyed The National, DWTV’s German Journal, NHK’s news from Japan, etc. I know you can get most of this news on the internet, but its not the same, it’s nice to relax in your chair and turn on the tv. This is a total travesty to take NWI off, and replace it with mindless CurrentTv. I guess I’ll be reading alot more books now than before. Please Bring back NWI!!