U.K. channeling Gore's Current

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LONDON -- Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore was in London Monday to unveil "citizen journalism" channel Current TV to U.K. audiences.

Speaking at a press launch for the channel, which will air on the Sky Digital and Virgin Media services, with a total footprint of 11 million homes, Gore said the channel will offer a voice to counter mainstream media.

"No matter how well intentioned or however much they mean the best, a conversation that shuts out individuals becomes stale and reflects a central production process," he said of the traditional news process. "We want to open up and democratize media. This is not a political or ideological channel, we like to think of it as far more radical than that."

Gore said that, with the U.K. distribution, the channel is now in more than 50 million homes worldwide and that he was "very bullish" about aggressive expansion, though he declined to give details of the next territories to roll out.

"We are hopeful of continued expansion, we have had a number of offers to negotiate with distributors elsewhere," he said.

He declined to confirm that Google had taken a strategic stake in the company -- the search giant provides a half-hourly update on the top ten global searches -- but said that Current was "open" to potential partnerships with other web brands.

"I don't want to go into the financial arrangements (of Current TV). We have enjoyed a strategic partnership with Google and Larry Page and Sergey Brin were present at our launch 18 months ago," he said.

Current TV will offer U.K. filmmakers an opportunity to create short form non-fiction content "pods" aimed at 18-34-year-olds. The U.K. service also will air content from the U.S. channel.

"Before this, if you wanted to get into television you had to get a job with a studio and work for about 20 years before you got a bit part in the production in a reality show or a program about eating bugs," Gore told reporters. "(In this industry) it's not the individual approach that generally wins out in the battle of ideas."
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