Al Gore's struggling Current TV considering a sale

Michelle Clancy | 29-10-2012

Current TV, the cable channel backed by Al Gore, is considering putting itself up on the block.

"Current has been approached many times by media companies interested in acquiring our company," the channel's chief executive, Joel Hyatt, said in a statement provided to Reuters. "This year alone, we've had three inquiries.

Current began life as Newsworld International, which Gore and Hyatt bought in 2004. After dabbling in user-generated programming when YouTube was Next Big Thing, it moved on to running staged exposes and covering various progressive liberal subjects, firmly relegating itself to niche status. Increasingly it has focused on a more MSBC-ish approach of political news with a liberal bent. However, it has still struggled to find viewership despite talk shows hosted by high-profile celebri-hosts, in particular former MSNBC anchor Keith Olbermann, who the channel fired earlier in the year claiming breach of contract. Now, Eliot Spitzer has the centerpiece show. Other hosts include Joy Behar, Cenk Uygur and Jennifer Granholm, and Gore has popped in for special election coverage.

It's unlikely that a buyer would keep the existing format, but the channel is available in 60 million homes, making it an attractive acquisition target for a company.

In light of the low ratings and the high interest, "we thought it might be useful to engage expertise to help us evaluate our strategic options," Hyatt said.

To that end, the channel has retained JP Morgan Chase and the Raine Group to assess the strategic options. Those could include a sale, a strategic partnership with a major media company or a new round of venture capital financing to revamp its content approach. In 2008, Current filed for a $100 million IPO but decided against it.