Current TV's Canadian Launch Postponed Indefinitely

--CRTC Had Approved Joint Venture Between Current Media and Canadian Broadcaster, CBC

Current Media--the company founded by former vice president, Al Gore, and his business partner, Joel Hyatt, that operates Current TV, an interactive TV channel that has hitherto been devoted to short-form informational programs, dubbed "pods," around 30% of which are contributed by viewers via its Web site (note: the channel, whose distribution partners include Comcast, Time Warner Cable, DirecTV, Dish Network, Verizon, AT&T, BSkyB, Virgin Media, and Sky Italia, also invites viewers to help determine its programming schedule by voting for video submissions on its site)--has put plans to enter the Canadian market on hold, according to a report Tuesday by CBC News.

Last month (see the article published on itvt.com, November 12th), Current announced that it was laying off 80 employees, mostly in production and programming roles, as a result of a fundamental change in programming strategy that it said would see it "shifting away from short-form programming and daily in-house production and towards proven 30-60 minute formats from a multitude of sources, including acquisitions, co-productions, outside studios, as well as Current developed and produced content" (note: in an interview with Mediaweek's Anthony Crupi, Current COO, Joanna Drake Earl, stressed that the company is "as keen as ever on participatory media," but added that it will likely be programming themed compilation shows rather than blocks of standalone user-generated videos; she also stated that the company expects its "VCAM" user-generated advertising service to expand). Current SVP, Michael Streefland, told CBC News that the company's decision to shelve a Canadian launch was due to its focus on implementing its new programming strategy.

In June (see the article published on itvt.com, June 14th), Current announced that a joint venture 20%-owned by Current Media itself, and 80%-owned by CBC, had received a broadcasting license for an English-language national channel from Canadian communications regulator, the CRTC. A CBC spokesperson told CBC News that the broadcaster now "has had other priorities [than the joint venture with Current Media] because it is struggling on a reduced budget this year." Neither Current Media nor CBC was able to provide CBC News with a timetable for the eventual launch of Current TV in Canada.

Region: 
North America