October 9, 2005

Al Gore’s Current TV aims for masses

By Paul J. Gough

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - Two months after launching
the first cable channel that has devoted significant time to
citizen-created journalism, Current TV chairman Al Gore said he
is on a mission to democratize the media.

At a news conference Friday in Manhattan, Gore and other
key members of the San Francisco-based channel said they are
trying to reach hip, disaffected young adults that are not
served by the present information sources on TV. The
independently owned channel has ambitious plans, too: It hopes
to go from 20 million homes to 50 million in five years.

Gore said television has been a one-way medium. But for the
first time in history, inexpensive video technology and
broadband Internet is changing the equation. Current TV is
riding that trend, with as much as 30% of its content coming
from video camera-equipped viewers who tackle shortform topics
as varied as citizens coming to the rescue in New Orleans, the
poor in Nairobi, Kenya, and Ecstasy parties among Iranian

It doesn't have to be such high-minded topics, said Anthony
Marshall, the channel's creative executive.

"This (video) may be something you have a passion about ...
things you want people to know about," Marshall said.

This shortform video can run from two minutes to as long as
30 minutes, arranged in programming "pods" and surrounded by a
limited amount of commercials. Advertisers include Sony,
L'Oreal and movie studios.

"We feel like we're off to a good start," said Joel Hyatt,
CEO of the channel.

One Current TV contributor, 27-year-old Yasmin Vossoughian,
hopes that the viewer-contributed content doesn't just come
from Los Angeles and New York but also Middle America.

"All you need is a camera and a few really good ideas,"
Vossoughian said.

Another contributor, Jared Arsement of Lafayette, La.,
documented the trip of 500 Louisianians in flat-bottomed boats
who helped in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Arsement, a
University of New Orleans film degree graduate who has been
working on a documentary about the Louisiana coastal wetlands,
brought his camera along and filmed an affecting piece about
the flotilla.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter