Rupert Murdoch’s got a new fight on his hands, and it’s not with BSkyB shareholders: Former U.S. vice president Al Gore blasted the media mogul for yanking his Current TV off Italian satcaster Sky Italia, a move he claimed was in retaliation for Current hiring Keith Olbermann for its U.S. network.
Current TV’s three-year contract with Sky Italia expired this month.
News Corp. insisted that Current’s exit from Sky’s lineup “had nothing to do with politics” but was a purely commercial disagreement over carriage fees. It said Current TV had demanded double its previous rate, which wasn’t justified by the economics.
Gore founded Current TV in 2005 in the U.S. and later took it to the U.K and Italy, where it’s had success with documentaries and investigative programs. But he said that after Current announced plans to hire left-wing commentator Olbermann, Sky Italia pulled the channel.
Olberman, who left MSNBC earlier this year, “obviously has a reputation of being very critical of Fox News and News Corp. And when we did this, Sky Italia announced they would close (Current). And our wonderful friends here at Sky Italia… told us they had orders from News Corp. in New York. That they were angry because we were launching Keith Olberman,” Gore said Thursday night in an appearance on Italian TV talkshow “Annozero.”
Earlier in the day, in a blistering interview with U.K. paper the Guardian, he called News Corp. “an international conglomerate with an ideological agenda,” saying “it wields political power “to shut down voices that disagree with the agenda of Rupert Murdoch.”
These fireworks set the stage for an even bigger confrontation a year from now when Current TV’s contract in the U.K. with BSkyB expires.