Current TV CEO steps down

Mark Rosenthal to be replaced by cabler's co-founder Joel Hyatt

Mark Rosenthal is stepping down as CEO of Current TV, a spokesman for the network confirmed Thursday.

Co-founder Joel Hyatt will step into the role effective immediately. He launched Current along with former Vice President Al Gore in 2005.

Rosenthal, a former CEO of MTV Networks, was with Current for six years as a board member, the past two of which he spent in the top job.

“During Mark’s tenure, Current has become a focused cable network with a world-class leadership team, a new brand identity, a move towards long-form, ratings-driven factual programming, and a solid foundation for growth,” read a statement issued by Current.

With the arrival of Keith Olbermann a month ago to anchor a nightly news program, Current TV had just begun to reposition itself after years of struggling to find a distinct brand identity.

Hyatt stepped out of the CEO role in August 2009 to make way for Rosenthal after Current failed to establish itself as a home for viewer-generated short-form programming. One of his first steps was eliminating 80 jobs at the company.

Rosenthal was attempting to reorient Current in a more traditional mold of the kind of cable networks he oversaw at MTVN, comprising entirely of unscripted series.

But that model never quite seemed to gel either, leading to yet another redefinition of Current established with the hiring of Olbermann, into what it describes itself as “a political commentary and news analysis network, with a clear, progressive point of view.”

With the addition of the left-leaning Olbermann, Current finds itself becoming the ideologically driven network the cable industry first assumed it would become given Gore’s political background. He led a group of investors in purchasing little-known cable channel NewsWorld Intl. from Vivendi Universal in 2004.

Current is in 75 million homes, including several international offshoots of the channel.