Keith Olbermann is set to join Current TV, the cable channel founded by former Vice President Al Gore.
Olbermann, who’s been out of the public eye since his abrupt departure from MSNBC last month, announced Tuesday that he’s headed to Current, where he’ll host a new talk show starting in late spring. He’ll have the newly created title of “chief news officer” for Current and will also have an “equity stake” in the cable channel, according to Entertainment Weekly.
Current was launched in 2005 by Gore and business partner Joel Hyatt. The channel, available in 60 million homes, is best-known as a repository of viewer-generated content –- video produced mainly by the young people who comprise the channel’s target audience. Hiring Olbermann represents the first time the channel has reached out to sign a nationally known TV personality for a nightly talk show. The move indicates a shift in Current’s programming strategy.
“In Current Media, Al Gore and Joel Hyatt have created the model truth-seeking entity,” Olbermann enthused in a telephone news conference late Tuesday morning. He declined to criticize MSNBC or any of his other former employers, but he did say that “Current is not only the leading independent network, it’s the only one.”
Reports of the former MSNBC host’s next career move began to circulate Monday evening, in advance of Tuesday’s news conference.
A story in the New York Times speculated that Olbermann’s deal with Current had been in the works for a while and may have precipitated his sudden break with MSNBC last month.
Olbermann was joined on the phone by his new boss, Al Gore, who praised his new, high-profile hire. “Keith Olbermann is a gifted thinker, an amazing talent and a powerful communicator, and having him tap Current as his new home is exciting and very much in line with the core vision we founded this network on: To engage viewers with smart, provocative and timely programming,” Gore said.
The announcement puts to rest the mystery of when Olbermann would return to the airwaves. It’s been long-assumed that his severance agreement with MSNBC barred him from appearing on any other TV network for a certain period of time.
Tuesday’s announcement means Olbermann’s “non-compete” period will likely last six months, which would place the start of his new on-air job in late June.