Published: 08.57 Europe/London, May 20, 2011

A war of words has erupted over the decision by Sky Italia to drop Al Gore’s information channel Current TV from its line-up.

The former US vice president said the decision had been politically motivated after it hired liberal politics news anchor Keith Olbermann to front a nightly show.

News Corp insists its subsidiary took the decision on purely commercial grounds: “Current TV asked Sky Italia for double the carriage fee when primetime viewing had fallen by 40% in the past year. Sky Italia’s offer was in line with the market and reflected the performance of the channel. It had nothing to do with politics.”

Current TV executive vice chairman Joel Hyatt responded by saying that its 2 eurocents rise was commensurate with an increase in viewers. Hyatt said he had been told by a “very senior News Corp source” that the order to drop Current TV had come from New York.

Prior to his appearance on Current TV, Olbermann was a presenter on MSNBC.