Cable Companies Eager to Dump Al Jazeera

Al Gore strong-armed them into keeping it, but they want to renegotiate

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 4, 2013 8:32 AM CST

(Newser) – Cable companies aren't thrilled about the idea of Current TV turning into Al Jazeera America, and might have dropped the network the moment the deal was announced—if Al Gore hadn't strong-armed them into keeping it, the New York Times reports. Gore personally lobbied distributors, reminding them that their contract with Current calls it a news channel, and that since Al Jazeera is certainly a news channel, booting it would raise issues of prejudice. "The lawyers for the carriers couldn't find their way around it," one source said.

But that doesn't mean Al Jazeera's woes are over. Time Warner on Wednesday announced that it was dropping Current anyway, though yesterday it relented a little, saying it was "keeping an open mind," and would evaluate the service "as it develops." And it's not alone; other providers, skittish about Al Jazeera's anti-American reputation, intend to drop it or renegotiate terms as soon as they can, Reuters reports. (The network currently airs in 40 million homes, with the company typically receiving 10 to 12 cents per subscriber.) "No one wanted to carry Current TV," one source explains, "and they want to carry an Al Jazeera channel even less."

A logo of Al-Jazeera is shown on a TV  in the office of the pan-Arab news network in Beijing, China, Wednesday, May 9, 2012.
A logo of Al-Jazeera is shown on a TV in the office of the pan-Arab news network in Beijing, China, Wednesday, May 9, 2012.   (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan)
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