Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Gore and Murdoch join forces in TV deal

by Emiko Terazono at Fin Times

Al Gore, the former US vice-president, is bringing his user-generated content television channel to the UK, courtesy of James Murdoch’s British Sky Broadcasting.
Mr Gore launched Current TV, the US channel made of clips created by viewers and producers, in August last year, and said that the channel was “democratising television.”
Mr Murdoch, who has claimed that BSkyB was the first media company in the world to go carbon neutral, and Mr Gore share their passion for the environment. Mr Murdoch invited Mr Gore to the gathering of News Corp’s executives at Pebble Beach, California, this summer.
At Pebble Beach Rupert Murdoch, News Corp chief executive, urged News Corp officials to follow his son James’ lead and to try and tackle climate change issues.
The pair have now come together to promote user generated content in the UK and Ireland. Current TV’s agreement for the channel to be carried on BSkyB’s satellite platform is its first international move outside the US.
Mr Gore said that the channel was one of the few on the cable network to break even in the first year and was looking to make profits in the second year. He rejected suggestions that viewer created clips was about gaining cheap content.
The deal with BSkyB brings Current TV to some 8m households. In the US, it is available in nearly 30m homes through cable and satellite television. With Current TV, viewers and producers upload their clips on to the channel’s website, where content which gets the most votes is broadcast on its television channel.
Mr Gore compared Current TV to the introduction of the printing press in the 15th century, which led to enlightenment. He said: “The television medium for 50 years has had the depressing effect on the conversation of democracy by excluding individuals. But the new affordable digital tools of both cameras and digital video cameras and laptop editing systems now make it completely feasible for individuals with accessible training to participate in the conversation.”
Mr Murdoch said that Mr Gore’s channel TV was “an elegant way” to marry user-generated content on the web to the broadcast medium. He said: “Current TV is bringing the web’s sense of empowerment to television for the first time.”

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