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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