Poor Ratings Get Current TV Dumped in the UK, CEO Whines About Murdoch Censorship

Current TV isn’t just largely unwatched in America. Mimi Turner at The Hollywood Reporter notes its horrible ratings in the United Kingdom are causing BSkyB to drop them. “Co-founder and CEO Joel Hyatt has launched an astonishing attack on the Rupert Murdoch-backed pay TV platform, accusing it of shutting down the channel in an act politically motivated by News Corporation.” It sounded just like Al Gore when Current TV got the ax in Italy.

“Sky is shutting down an intelligent alternative to mass market programming,” said Joel Hyatt, CEO of Current Media. In Britain, the land of the liberal BBC and just recently, PBS UK? Hyatt continued his Murdoch-bashing: “By doing so, Sky is once again discriminating in favor of the networks it owns and the points of view News Corporation agrees with.”


Turner reported that BSkyB sources say it’s simply not renewing its five-year deal because Current TV has performed “very poorly,” and proven to be one of the “least-watched” channels on its platform. According to U.K. ratings data, the channel’s share of viewing was 0.024 percent in the past year, with its best series averaging 43,000 viewers. Its average peak-time audience in its best month in 2011 was 4,700 viewers – on a platform that reaches 10 million homes.

“BSkyB is withdrawing funding effectively forcing the channel to shut down,” Current TV claimed, adding that its staff, contractors, and program suppliers have been notified that the channel could close as early as mid-March.

Al Gore made the same noises when Current TV got the ax in Italy last year. From The Guardian:

Former US vice-president Al Gore has hit out at Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, accusing it of "an abuse of power" by forcing his liberal TV station off air in Italy because it did not fit in with the media giant's "ideological agenda".

In an interview with the Guardian, Gore said the Current TV news and documentary channel was told unexpectedly three weeks ago that it could no longer be carried by Sky Italia because of its decision to hire a US left-leaning commentator often critical of Murdoch's company. [That would be one Mr. Olbermann.]

He added that the decision reflected how News Corporation operated worldwide. "News Corporation is an international conglomerate with an ideological agenda. It seeks political power in every nation they operate. They wield that power to shut down voices that disagree with the agenda of Rupert Murdoch," Gore said.

This attack presumes that Gore is not running a channel with an ideological agenda, which is increasingly belied by the unpopular leftist hosts it keeps hiring. News Corp responded that Current TV's prime time viewing had falled 40 percent in the previous year in Italy. Nothing fails like failure.
 

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis