After it acquires the left-leaning Current TV founded by former Vice President Al Gore for $500 million, Al Jazeera will have to fight an existing bias as it sets up an operation with 60 percent of its programming coming from the U.S., says USC professor Jonathan Taplin. Angie Crouch reports from Culver City for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Jan. 3, 2013.
Al Jazeera, the cable network owned by the government of Qatar, is buying Current TV, the left-leaning cable network co-founded by former Vice President Al Gore.
The reported $500 million deal will allow the Pan-Arab cable network to launch Al Jazeera America, which would produce about 60 percent of its programming in the United States.
Current TV has struggled to get viewers, reaching about 60 million homes across the United States. With Time Warner Cable announcing it will drop Current TV, that means Al Jazeera America will be available in about 40 million homes.
Jennifer Granholm, who hosts a show on Current TV, announced she'll cancel her program in light of the sale.
USC professor Jonathan Taplin heads up the Annenberg Innovation Lab, which studies the future of media. He said Al Jazeera will have to fight an existing bias by some Americans against a foreign owned cable network.
"Why is it that a network owned by Muslims can't exist in America?" Taplin said. "One could argue that it might lead to greater knowledge of the Mideast."
Al Jazeera has received numerous awards for its coverage of the Middle East, even getting a glowing review from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2011.
"Viewership of Al Jazeera is going up in the U.S. because it's real news," Clinton said, at the time.
Al Jazeera plans to open new bureaus in key U.S. cities and more than double its staff in America to 300 employees.