Gore's TV network set to launch with Google tie-in

Former vice president plans Current.tv channel with shows contributed by its young viewers.

Former Vice President Al Gore and partners have renamed their upcoming youth-oriented TV network and set Aug. 1 as its launch date.

The venture, formerly called INdTV, will be called Current.tv, it was announced on Monday. The 24-hour network will target an 18- to 34-year-old audience and offer short-form content--15-second to five-minute segments--to be contributed by viewers.

Viewers will also be able to vote for their favorite videos and get tutorials via the Internet on how to produce their own segments, according to network officials.

Think of it as a big video blog that you don't need a computer to watch. Gore said he is aiming to bring interactivity to the TV set.

"The Internet opened a floodgate for young people whose passions are finally being heard, but TV hasn't followed suit," Gore, the network's chairman, said in a statement. "We intend to change that with Current, giving those who crave the empowerment of the Web the same opportunity for expression on television."

Gore and Google team up
In addition to the videos, the new network reached a pact with Google to include the search firm's data on the most popular Web searches.

The deal came despite early skepticism from Sergey Brin, a co-founder of Google, the No. 1 Web search engine that earlier this year stepped into the realm of entertainment by releasing a test video search service that pulls up still shots from such content providers as Fox News, PBS and the NBA.

When first approached, "I thought it would be an extraordinarily challenging endeavor," Brin said. "Having seen some of the work they've now put together, I think it's an extraordinary opportunity."

Starting Aug. 1, Current will replace News World International, which is available in almost 19 million U.S. homes--12 million from DirecTV and about 5 million on Time Warner's digital-cable service. Current acquired News World International from Vivendi Universal Entertainment for an undisclosed sum last May.

Viewers will be able to contribute content and participate in the programming the show lineup through Current's online production studio.

Politics aside
Topics will include careers, finance, fashion, global events and local happenings.

The idea builds off the on-demand scheduling capabilities that viewers currently have through video on demand and digital video recorders but goes one step further to include the creation and active programming role, according to the company.

Gore, who lost the 2000 election in a bitter contest with current President Bush, seemed to have put politics behind him, insisting the channel would not be a liberal pulpit.

"We have no intention of being a Democratic channel, a liberal channel, or a TV version of Air America, that's not what we're all about," he said, referring to the liberal radio network.

The network said its financial backers included Rob Glaser, chief executive of RealNetworks, Bob Pittman who helped create the popular MTV networks and Joel Hyatt, who is chief executive of the network and built a network of legal services clinics.

Network officials said they were trying to expand the viewer base, but acknowledged that lining up more cable systems was not easy.

So far, they have agreements involving DirecTV's "Total Choice" tier, as well as in certain markets operated by Comcast Corp. and Time Warner.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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