Al Gore has sold San Francisco-based Current TV — a national cable network that was only watched by 42,000 viewers a night — to the emir of Qatar’s Al Jazeera Media Network for a reported $500 million.
Al Jazeera said it plans to use Current to launch a news channel based in New York City, with bureaus in Washington, Los Angeles, Miami and Chicago. No mention was made of San Francisco and plans for Current’s South of Market headquarters are not yet known, the Chronicle reported.
Current TV never succeeded in drawing an audience. It was available in 60 million U.S. households yet only had 42,000 viewers per night in 2012.
After the sale was announced Monday, Time Warner said it was dropping Current TV from its cable systems serving 12 million viewers, as it had other low-rated channels. Time Warner’s systems include those serving L.A. and New York.
While Current TV’s audience was microscopically small, it gave politicians such as Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm nightly programs so they could brush up on their TV skills.
Current TV made headlines twice since it began — for firing Keith Olbermann and when two of its reporters were captured by the North Koreans, and President Clinton had to negotiate their release.