Al Jazeera’s reported acquistion of San Francisco-based Current TV — a development broken this afternoon in a New York Times blog — has the potential of changing the media universe not only for viewers, but also for the Bay Area political pundits who star on the cable network founded by former Vice President Al Gore.
The progressive cable TV network, from its South of Market studios, has made former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm a popular star of its daily show, “The War Room.”
“War Room” has not only showcased Granholm’s lively and often fiery commentary on major issues and interviews with major newsmakers, but has turned her into a favorite on Sunday talk shows.
But former San Francisco Mayor and current California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who stars in The “Gavin Newsom Show,” has also gained attention in communications circles with his once weekly offering in which he has conversations with tech leaders, innovators and political insiders.
And the deal has huge implications, according to the Times piece today by Brian Stelter:
“If the deal is completed, Current will provide the pan-Arab news giant with something it has sought for years: a pathway into American living rooms. Current is available in about 60 million of the 100 million homes in the United States with cable or satellite service.”
The Times story suggests that the new entity, “potentially called Al Jazeera America,” will include roughly 60 percent programming produced in the United States “while the remaining 40 percent will come from Al Jazeera English,” a move that would put the Qatar-financed enterprise “into closer competition with CNN and other news channels in the United States.”
Now comes a hint as to what’s ahead for the SF-based crew, according to the Times:
“Al Jazeera may absorb some Current TV staff members, according to the people, who insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. But Current’s schedule of shows will most likely be dissolved in the spring.”
If so, watch what’s ahead for both Newsom and Granholm. The Current hosts have gained a following with their prominence on the network, becoming increasingly favored spokespeople for Democratic causes.
Granholm delivered a barn-burner of a speech at the Democratic National Convention last summer, and, like Newsom, has become something of a regular on Sunday talk shows like “Meet the Press.”