According to reports in the New York Post and Reuters, Current CEO Joel Hyatt issued a statement about a potential sale.
“Current has been approached many times by media companies interested in acquiring our company. This year alone, we have had three inquiries. As a consequence, we thought it might be useful to engage expertise to help us evaluate our strategic options.”
Current, which is owned by Hyatt, Gore, Direct TV, Comcast and several venture capital firms, is one of the few cable channels with a fairly large footprint that isn’t owned by a large media company.
It’s that footprint, with a reach of approximately 60 million homes—not the channel’s programming—that makes it a potentially valuable prize for the right owner.
Current, which converted from a mostly documentary-laden channel to what Gore and Hyatt perceived to be a left-wing alternative to MSNBC, has seen a small ratings uptick since the changeover, though it still barely registers on Nielsen’s radar.
That is due in part to the also-ran hosts like Cenk Uygur, Joy Behar, Eliot Spitzer and for a brief period Keith Olbermann, who flopped on the other larger cable networks.
While neither Gore nor Hyatt have expressed any concern about the perpetually poor ratings, even after investing in the aforementioned hosts, it’s looking more like they are admitting that their desire to challenge MSNBC and CNN was just pie in the sky, rather than anything remotely realistic, and that a sale is just face-saving on their part so they don’t have to admit how wrong they were.
It was just four years ago that Gore had to scrap plans for an initial public offering. A sale now would provide an exit for Gore and his investors and allow them to hand over the headaches of running a cable channel to someone who can actually do so profitably.
A sale will probably mean the end of the left-wing attack machine that is the channel’s bread and butter, but in reality I don’t think even the liberals will miss it.