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Critics warming up to Gore's Current TV

The critics have done an about face as far as San Francisco-based Current TV is concerned. The network, founded by former vice president Al Gore and legal services entrepreneur Joel Hyatt of Atherton, is now getting positive reviews for its concept of airing short videos produced by its viewers, the Chronicle reports. A year ago it was being ridiculed.

While not as hot as YouTube.com, Current TV is now carried in 30 million homes. Hyatt said Current is trying to position itself as the thinking person’s YouTube. Still, while Current is seen in more homes than ever, it doesn’t have enough viewers to be measured by Nielsen. However, Hyatt says the network has made a small profit on annual revenue of about $10 million.

Hyatt knows something about TV — he built a network of store-front legal service franchises in Ohio by personally doing TV spots for years. It was in Ohio that he met his wife Susan, the daughter of long-time Democratic Senator Howard Metzenbaum. Hyatt ran for the Senate in 1994 and lost. He then moved to Atherton.

[PHOTO: In this Chronicle photo by Katy Raddatz are Current TV programming chief David Neuman, left, supervising producer Laura Ling and chief executive Joel Hyatt. Studios and offices are located near the Giants ballpark in China Basin.]

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