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Al Jazeera boosts US footprint with Current TV acquisition

Al Jazeera will buy Current TV, the low-rated cable channel founded by Al Gore and Joel Hyatt in 2005, in a move that will boost its US footprint.

Al Jazeera has set its sights on capturing US audiences by acquiring local cable channel, Current TV.

The Qatar-based news network is looking to establish Al Jazeera America as it is tentatively being called later on in the year. Current TV will continue its programming for the next three months and Al Jazeera English, which is based in London will take over before local American coverage takes hold. The new channel will focus 60 per cent on covering American events and the remaining 40 per cent will be international coverage provided by Al Jazeera English.

Al Jazeera gained global attention for its coverage of the Arab Spring and now US audiences make up 40 per cent of its online viewers.

In a press statement, Al Jazeera's director general Ahmed bin Jassim Al Thani said: “For many years, we understood that we could make a positive contribution to the news and information available in and about the United States and what we are announcing today will help us achieve that goal.”

The new channel will be headquartered in New York City. In addition to the existing Al Jazeera news bureaus in New York, Washington, DC, Los Angeles, Miami and Chicago, Al Jazeera will open additional bureaus throughout 2013 and early 2014 which will see the firm's local staff double to more than 300 employees.

 

thamid@thenational.ae

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