With its $500 million purchase of left-leaning Current TV, the pan-Arab news channel Al-Jazeera will soon be seen in tens of millions of U.S. homes. It’s a steep price, but the acquisition helps the network in its aim to quickly spread its message to more Americans.
The purchase will create a news channel called Al-Jazeera America, coming to U.S. homes 90 days from now with a distinctly non-American view of the world.
Al-Jazeera plans to gradually transform Current into Al-Jazeera America. More than half of the content will be U.S. news and the network will have its headquarters in New York, spokesman Stan Collender said.
No plans have been disclosed for what will become of Current’s San Francisco headquarters on Townsend Street.
The network will visit The City next week to meet with the Current staff, according to an Al-Jazeera representative.
The network could not say whether it will keep the location, but said it will have bureaus around the country and will “most definitely” keep a presence in San Francisco.
No layoffs are planned at the moment — all Current TV employees are now Al-Jazeera employees, and will be for at least three months, the network said, adding that Al-Jazeera has an excellent reputation regarding its treatment toward employees and is looking forward to working with everyone at Current.
The deal has already had its first setbacks.
The nation’s second-largest TV operator, Time Warner Cable Inc., dropped Current after the deal was confirmed Wednesday, saying the network didn’t have enough viewers.
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom also said he will end his show on Current TV by the end of January, although he said he had decided to do so before the acquisition was announced.
On Wednesday, former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm said the public affairs program she hosts would stay on the air for the next few weeks before she leaves for other pursuits.
Al-Jazeera has garnered respect for its ability to build a serious news product in a short time. In a statement announcing the deal, it touted numerous U.S. journalism awards it received in 2012, including the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award Grand Prize and the Scripps Howard Award for Television/Cable In-Depth Reporting.