Current TV, CBC collaboration fizzles

Canada pubcaster withdraws from Al Gore's cable venture

TORONTO -- As if Al Gore doesn't have enough on his plate, his Current TV collaboration north of the border with the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. looks to have died an unheralded death.

A year after the Canadianized Current TV web and digital channel venture got the green light to launch here, Canada's public broadcaster on Friday said the joint venture, while not formally severed, has been "dormant" for some time.

The CRTC, Canada's TV regulator, OK'd the Canadian-driven digital channel and website to launch here with at least 35% user-generated content.

And in line with Canadian ownership rules, the CBC was to hold an 80% interest in the operating company Current Media Canada, with the U.S.-based Current TV retaining a 20% voting interest.

But the CBC, which has driven far further onto the Internet and digital platforms than rival Canadian networks, withdrew from the multiplatform venture with Current TV just as Gore's cable channel initiated a management and programming overhaul.

It doesn't help that Current TV's Joel Hyatt, who unveiled the Current TV venture up north with the CBC back in late 2008, is gone, having been replaced as CEO by Mark Rosenthal, the former MTV Networks COO.

The irony of Gore not making a go of his Current TV service in Canada is the former U.S. vice president and environmental campaigner initially bought the CBC's then Newsworld International TV service in 2004 and transformed it into Current TV as a 24-hour channel available in 70 million households around the world.