We knew that Time Warner Cable dropped Current from its programming line-up, for reasons that remain unclear, right after it was sold to Al Jazeera. But now it's looking like other cable companies are looking for the first possible way out.
The New York Times' Brian Stelter reports Al Gore was forced to go to different cable distributors during the negotiations of the network's sale and politely remind them that Current, and Al Jazeera, are news organizations. The thinking being that, should they opt to drop Current once it was sold to Al Jazeera, it would certainly draw questions of prejudice.
Gore was able to protect all of Current's cable contracts, which were really what Al Jazeera was paying for, except one. Time Warner Cable got out as fast as they could. Lawyers for the other cable companies couldn't justify dropping the channel.
Losing Time Warner might be the first hardship the new Al Jazeera America will face during its transition to becoming an American news network, but it likely won't be the last. Reuters' Liana B. Baker and Peter Lauria report a number of distributers "plan to re-evaluate their agreements once they expire." "No one wanted to carry Current TV and they want to carry an Al Jazeera channel even less," a source told Baker and Lauria.
Time Warner Cable's contract with Current was up anyway. Some think Time Warner's move was more about renegotiating their per-subscriber rate. But that didn't stop some from looking at the dropping of Current with eyebrows raised anyway.
Time Warner indirectly used Current's dismal rating numbers as an excuse for dropping the channel. They previously said they were going to be dropping channels with lower ratings, and Current only draws about 42,000 viewers a night. Other cable companies might use this defense if they decide to drop Al Jazeera once their existing deals are through. But, again, they might just choose to make it all about the money, too. Al Jazeera is backed by a lot of it.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to email@example.com.