News Corp. official says that Sky Italia dropped the channel due to a rise in carriage fees, not politics
Al Gore has discovered another tentacle of the vast right-wing conspiracy. Or so he believes.
The former vice president and founder of Current TV has accused News Corp. honcho Rupert Murdoch of pushing the left-leaning Current off the air in Italy, in retaliation for hiring frequent Fox News critic Keith Olbermann.
Gore told British newspaper the Guardian that Italian pay-TV outlet Sky Italia, a property of News Corp., canceled its contract with Current three weeks ago — which came as a "complete shock" — and that Current TV executives were told off the record that the decision was taken on News Corp instructions from New York "because Current is launching Keith Olbermann next month." (Olbermann, who left MSNBC in January, will debut "Countdown With Keith Olbermann" on June 20.)
Accusing Murdoch of an "abuse of power," Gore went on to tell the paper, "News Corporation is an international conglomerate with an ideological agenda. It seeks political power in every nation they operate. They wield that power to shut down voices that disagree with the agenda of Rupert Murdoch."
Moreover, Gore believes, News Corp.'s intended takeover of British broadcaster BSkyB will likely lead to a similar chilling effect on England's airwaves.
"I know that News Corp. is close to reaching an agreement to buy BSkyB," Gore told the paper. "Now I may not be a party to that debate, but if anybody believes that [News Corp] will remain hands off if there are diverse opinions that do not agree with its ideological agenda then they are fools. This is proof positive of their abuse of power,"
As for Current being yanked from Italy's airwaves, a News Corp. spokesperson denied any ideological motives, telling the paper that the decision was "purely commercial."
"Current TV asked Sky Italia for double the carriage fee when prime-time viewing had fallen by 40% in the past year," the spokesperson noted. "Sky Italia's offer was in line with the market and reflected the performance of the channel. It had nothing to do with politics."
However, Current TV disputes this claim, saying in a statement obtained by TheWrap, "News Corporation is taking liberties when they claim Current TV asked Sky Italia for double the carriage fee. In fact, we never offered any number to them before we were summarily informed that they were dropping us."