By FRAZIER MOORE
NEW YORK — Current TV is bringing Cenk Uygur and “The Young Turks” to its prime-time lineup.
Current will work with Uygur and his team to launch a television version of their online program by year-end, the network announced Tuesday.
The Young Turks, led by Uygur, are a group of progressive journalists and commentators who draw millions of Web viewers and claim to be the Internet’s most-watched news show. Like the online original, the new Current version will cover politics, pop culture and lifestyle, and will be produced from Los Angeles.
Current disclosed no details of the deal.
“Cenk has really demonstrated a unique talent for translating complex daily events into a narrative context that reveals deeper meanings and engages his audience,” Current chairman Al Gore said in an interview with The Associated Press, “and he has connected, in particular, with a young demographic interested in what’s going on in the world.”
Uygur’s show will precede “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” at 7 p.m. Eastern each weeknight. Like Olbermann, Uygur was formerly a presence on cable-news network MSNBC. Olbermann left MSNBC last January and soon afterward joined Current, where “Countdown” resumed in June as the centerpiece of a planned full night of talk programing.
Uygur had held MSNBC’s 6 p.m. hour for some months before abruptly exiting the network in July, saying his bosses had told him he was too combative toward the Washington power elite. (The network countered that no effort was made to leash Uygur, and insisted other time slots had been offered him.) Soon afterward, civil rights leader Al Sharpton was named the permanent host of the 6 p.m. slot.
“I have no interest in doing a pro-Establishment show,” Uygur said, “and that’s not what I’ll be doing at Current.”
After leaving MSNBC, Uygur had professed to be satisfied with his online home and in no hurry to find a TV outlet.
“I don’t have to do something I’m not comfortable with just to be on television,” he said after Tuesday’s announcement. “But if there is an outlet such as Current TV that lets me do the real show, then of course I was interested.”
Gore drew a contrast – and not for the first time – between Current and its rival networks owned by large conglomerates. (MSNBC is controlled by Comcast Corp.)
“We’re independent,” Gore said, “not just in spirit and in tone, but, more importantly, in reality.”
Gore called himself “a big fan” of Uygur’s MSNBC show, saying, “He demonstrated that his phenomenal success on the Web translates easily and well into the television format.”
Joel Hyatt, Current CEO and (with Gore) the 6-year-old network’s co-founder, said adapting an online program for TV “is very much in our DNA. Al and I set out to build a multi-platform media company and to find synergies between the platforms that were additive and not duplicative.”
Current President David Bohrman spoke of using “The Young Turks” as a way to develop new connections between online and TV.
“We can do that with Cenk and his passionate followers who are online now,” said Bohrman.
He made a distinction between the show Uygur hosted on MSNBC and his upcoming Current program.
“We’ll be bringing the Turks as well as Cenk,” Bohrman said. “The group, with its free-wheeling dynamic, isn’t really the Cenk you saw on MSNBC.”
Meanwhile, the network, now available in 60 million households, expects to announce a third nightly program in the near future.
“Ain’t no grass growing under our feet,” Gore said.
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