The move, tipped to be worth over $500m, will help the Qatari state-owned broadcaster achieve its long-sought expansion in the US.
“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 . . . will help us achieve that goal,” said Ahmed bin Jassim Al Thani, director-general of Al Jazeera.
“By acquiring Current TV, Al Jazeera will significantly expand our existing distribution footprint in the US, as well as increase our newsgathering and reporting efforts in America.”
Al Jazeera said its US news channel would be separate from Al Jazeera English, and would provide both domestic and international news for American audiences. It added that the channel would air in 2013, with its headquarters in New York. In addition to existing bureaux in New York, Washington, Los Angeles, Miami and Chicago, Al Jazeera intends to open more offices and double its US-based staff to more than 300 employees. Current said Al Gore, its chairman, and co-founder Joel Hyatt, the chief executive officer, would remain on the advisory board.
But America’s second-largest TV operator, Time Warner Cable Inc., dropped Current after the deal was confirmed.
“Our agreement with Current has been terminated and we will no longer be carrying the service. We are removing the service as quickly as possible,” the company said in a statement.
Previous to Al-Jazeera’s purchase, Current TV was in 60 million homes. It is carried by Comcast Corp., which owned less than a 10 percent stake in Current TV, as well as DirecTV. Neither company announced plans to drop the channel.