Photo of Keith Olberman.
Will Keith Olbermann save Current TV? CC by Freedom To Marry/Flickr

Current TV has persuaded Keith Olbermann to join the obscure cable channel founded by Al Gore. Olbermann’s new Current TV gig was announced Tuesday, not long after he abruptly departed MSNBC. Olbermann will host a new show on Current TV much like he did at MSNBC.

Trying to gain popularity

Al Gore founded Current TV, which might end up doing much better with Keith Olbermann. Programming on Current TV was originally based on short segments called “pods” targeted to an audience aged 18-34. Now it shows reruns of documentaries like “The American Life.” The pods never did well. About 60 million cable subscribers currently have access to Current TV, but the channel only gets 23,000 prime time viewers. MSNBC’s “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” usually drew about 1 million viewers. Olbermann could help Gore make the network do better.

An unfettered platform for Olbermann

On Current TV, Olbermann is being given free reign. His opinion can be shared to his content. His sudden departure from MSNBC was preceded by a suspension for donating to Democratic political candidates. Olbermann will join Current TV as the “chief news officer,” and Gore said there won’t be restrictions like MSNBC’s. Olbermann will also serve as executive producer of his nightly show and receive an equity stake in Current TV. Gore explained that Current TV will work against major cable news networks as a commentary lineup on prime time after Olbermann’s hire.

More Olbermann promised on new show

When Olbermann announced the Current TV move, he said he accepted Gore’s offer because he didn’t want corporate interference in his new production. He referred to Current TV as a “model truth-seeking entity.” Without directing criticism at specific targets, he said market forces shouldn’t be a factor in corporate decisions about how stories are covered. He said his new show, as yet untitled, would be “an improved and amplified version of the show I just did.”

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