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Gore’s Channel Takes Current Approach

4/10/2005 8:00 PM Eastern

San Francisco— Roughly 11 months after buying a cable network, former Vice President Al Gore finally unveiled his plans to relaunch it as Current, a youth-targeted service that will turn to its tech-savvy viewers and Google for content.

The network, now known as Newsworld International, will debut in its new incarnation Aug. 1, Gore said during a press conference last week at the headquarters of INdTV, the channel’s parent company. Gore and his team are positioning Current as the network for the Internet generation.

“We have no intention of being a Democratic channel, a liberal channel, the TV version of [radio network] Air America,” said Gore, who is INdTV’s chairman. “That’s not what we’re all about.

“We are about empowering this generation of young people in their 20s, the 18-to-34 population, to engage in the dialogue of democracy and to tell their stories about what’s going on their lives.

“It’s not in any way an ideological, much less partisan, point of view in any respect. It will have the point of view of the young generation.”

With its relaunch plans in place, Current will begin pitching distributors in earnest. It already has nearly 20 million subscribers, through carriage on DirecTV Inc.’s “Total Choice” tier, 5 million homes on Time Warner Cable’s digital-basic tier, and in Comcast Corp. markets such as San Francisco.

Current is soliciting short-form viewer-created content, “VCC,” from 18-to-34 year-olds, to fill a good portion of its schedule. Beyond that, Current has struck as deal to use samples of Google search data, under the name “Google Current,” to offer updates on each day’s most-searched topics.

VOD, BROADBAND COMPONENTS

Current will have strong VOD and broadband components to use to lure distributors to the linear network. Its informational short-form content — “pods” from 15 seconds to five minutes in length on such subjects as relationships, parenting, television, music, fashion and technology — are natural fodder for on-demand platforms, INdTV CEO Joel Hyatt said.

Current’s game plan is to offer up “an ever-growing library of evergreen video on demand,’ ” as well as “very importantly … linking our network inextricably to the cable operator’s broadband applications,” Hyatt said.

Current is looking for viewers to submit video via the Internet and to work through the network’s “online studio” (www.current.tv), which offers opportunities for broadband that should help cable operators sell modems, according to Hyatt.

Current is creating an online training program for viewers who want to create and submit video content.

 

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