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Current Media lays off 80, cancels shows

Exactly one year after it announced an earlier round of layoffs, the cable network co-founded by Al Gore is cutting positions associated with several shows it's canceling.

Maybe it hasn't worked so well to mesh the short-video-clip culture of the Web with traditional cable news: Current Media, the edgy cable company co-founded by former Vice President Al Gore, announced Wednesday it has laid off 80 employees in conjunction with a programming shakeup.

According to a release from the company, this shift involves canceling a number of programs, including "Current Tonight," "Current Takeover" and "Current Exposed." Most of the layoffs are in conjunction with those programs.

Additionally, per Wednesday's release: "Current will be shifting away from short-form programming and daily in-house production and towards proven 30-60 minute formats from a multitude of sources, including acquisitions, co-productions, outside studios, as well as Current developed and produced content." So it sounds like there will be a significant amount of new focus on outsourced material rather than more expensive in-house production--and perhaps less of an attempt to compete with well-established, live cable news networks.

Exactly one year ago, Current--headquartered in San Francisco but with many of its production operations in Los Angeles--laid off about 60 people but said that it was also creating about 30 new positions, which left its head count around 410 employees. Current chief operating officer Joanna Drake Earl told CNET News that this year's cuts leave its employee numbers at around 300.

The release said that the cuts were "not the result of a need to cut costs" and that the company would be hiring in areas like talent management, licensing, marketing, and ad sales. It'll also be consolidating its two L.A. facilities into a single new one.

"We've been an extremely innovative company doing lots and lots of different things," Earl said, "but (we've had to ask) what are we doing for our audience, and what shouldn't we be doing."

The company had filed for a $100 million IPO about two years ago but then retracted it amid concerns about the economy. It's repeatedly had to deflect rumors about its viability, like a report early this year that it would be closing its San Francisco headquarters to focus on L.A.

This post was updated at 2:10 p.m. PT with comment from Current's COO.