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Al Gore's Current TV faces closure in Britain as BSkyB swings the axe


By Noel Young, Correspondent

January 12, 2012 | 3 min read

Al Gore’s Current UK look set to vanish from the UK television scene. It has been dropped from BSkyB’s pay-TV lineup barely two months before its contract was up.

Gore: criticised Murdoch

The website Deadline Hollywood reports, "Without funding from the BSkyB contract Current UK isn’t likely to survive."

The 23 staff were warned at a meeting on Wednesday morning that its future is bleak, according to the Guardian.

BSkyB, part owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, decided to withdraw funding - effectively forcing the channel's closure. The US channel and the British and Italian versions are all seen as liberal.

Gore accused Rupert Murdoch of “an abuse of power” over the Current Italia closure. He said it was a result of the channel’s decision to appoint a left leaning commentator and vocal critic of Murdoch’s media empire. Gore said Murdoch was attempting to “shut down voices” who disagreed with his agenda.

Gore and Joel Hyatt launched Current UK in 2007 to open British TV to "new voices and untold stories" but it has struggled for viewers. Most programmes come from independent producers new to television. One series was Morgan Spurlock’s 50 Documentaries to See Before You Die.

For the moment the channel is still available on Virgin Media and online as well as Sky.

Co-founder Hyatt was quoted by the US website, “Sky is shutting down an intelligent alternative to mass market programming.” Managing director Jane Mote said “It is looking likely we will have to close on 11 March.”

UPDATED: Rob Webster, Sky’s commercial director, has replied to the comments, saying: “Content is at the heart of Sky’s business and we’re committed to investing in the cut-through programming that matters most to our customers. We already spend more than £350m a year with pay channel partners, but we need to make this investment work hard in delivering high-quality, pay-exclusive content that gives customers more reasons to subscribe.

“Despite investing significantly in Current TV since its UK launch in 2006, the channel simply hasn’t made the impact with our customers that we’d hoped for. That’s why we’ve decided not to renew our retail relationship. But as an open platform that helps many hundreds of channels reach more than 10 million Sky homes, Current TV still has a great opportunity to reach more than one in three UK and Irish homes. Should they choose to do so, we wish them well.”

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