This morning, former MSNBC host Keith Olbermann confirmed that he is indeed moving to Current TV, the public affairs network co-founded by Al Gore. Sometime "later in 2011," he said, he will have a news-and-opinion program on Current, and he will also become the network's chief news officer and have an equity stake in Current Media.
Founded in 2005, Current TV is available in approximately 75 million homes around the world, but it has yet to become a familiar option to viewers. It draws a very small average of 23,000 viewers each night in prime time. The presence of Olbermann, who helped usher MSNBC into prominence with his nightly show "Countdown," which drew about a million viewers a night, may provide the network with a needed boost and a more competitive role in the news-channel wars.
In a conference call with the media this morning, Olbermann celebrated Current's indie cred: "Nothing is more vital to a free America than a free media, and nothing is more vital to my concept of a free media than news produced independently of corporate interference. In Current Media, Al Gore and Joel Hyatt have created the model truth-seeking entity."
"We are delighted to provide Keith with the independent platform and freedom that Current can and does uniquely offer," Gore said this morning. He added that he is not concerned about Olbermann and the issue of political donations, which led to Olbermann getting briefly suspended from MSNBC. "We believe at Current that every citizen has the freedom of speech and freedom of speech includes the ability to donate to candidates of your choice," Gore said. "But as a news and information organization, we also believe in full disclosure of that to inform the viewers."
About Viewer Discretion
ContributorsMatthew Gilbert is the Globe's TV critic.
Sarah Rodman is a staff TV and music critic for the Boston Globe.
Michael Brodeur is the assistant arts editor for the Boston Globe, covering pop music, TV, and nightlife.
Katie McLeod is Boston.com's features editor.
Rachel Raczka is a producer for Lifestyle and Arts & Entertainment at Boston.com.
Glenn Yoder is an Arts & Entertainment producer at Boston.com.