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Current TV plugs into amateur vid offerings

Vids feature Katrina rescues, underground parties in Iran and more

From a house party in Tehran to rescue efforts in the Ninth Ward, viewer-submitted video is streaming to Current TV.

What began two months ago with loops of soaring birds and a homily by Deepak Chopra (his son Gotham is a Current TV host) has become a pipeline for indie video, edited into neat two- to 10-minute packages.

Founders Al Gore and Joel Hyatt took their road show to New York last week, starting with a “Take Back TV” concert in Central Park and then tubthumping their nascent network for the media.

In the beginning, Gore said, the net anticipated that viewer-submitted videos would account for 5% of the net’s programming. Stunned by the volume and quality of submissions, they’ve boosted that to 30%

“There are an enormous amount of young adults who know how to use the tools of the digital age; through word-of-mouth they are finding us,” Hyatt said.

The net has boosted its distribution to 20 million households through deals with DirecTV, Time Warner Cable and several Comcast Cable systems. Gore said he hoped to get distribution to 50 million homes within a year.

Indeed, Lafayette, La., resident Jared Arsement can’t actually watch Current TV at home, but the video he submitted of a flotilla of 500 volunteer rescue boats in New Orleans has made heavy rotation on the channel.

Yasmin Vossoughian followed Iranian youths into an underground Ecstasy party in Tehran, where twentysomethings keep the lights and the music low to keep from arousing the suspicion of police.

Current sales chief Annie Kallin Zehren, former publisher of Teen People, said the youth-targeted net has made inroads in several ad categories including gaming, film studios, beauty, electronics and apparel.

Net is offering advertisers the opportunity to do long-form segments, Isolated Creative Brand Message (ICBM), and advertisements created and submitted by amateurs.

Geared for young auds, a typical hour on Current TV can contain dozens of short segments — or pods — including “Google Current,” a pod on what Current viewers are searching for, and “The Current Hottie,” a mini profile of a neighborhood barista.

Gore and Hyatt stress its not professional video they’re looking for. Submissions can be uploaded and edited at current.tv. Then users vote on what should make it on the air.

“All you need is a camera and a good idea,” Vossoughian said.

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