April 6, 2005

NEWS: Al Gore launches youth TV channel (USA)

Former US Vice-President Al Gore is to spearhead a new TV channel offering bite-sized entertainment and current affairs aimed at young people.

The cable channel Current will launch in August with 15-second to five-minute "pods" on subjects from fashion to finance plus Google's search headlines.

It will also encourage its 18-34 audience to make their own TV packages.

Mr Gore, who will be the channel's chairman, said it would let viewers "engage in the dialogue of democracy".

He said he wanted to "transform the television medium itself" by making it easier for viewers to get their voices heard.

Current's website will offer editing software and tutorials for viewers to post their videos on the site. A vote will pick the best ones to be shown on TV.

Mr Gore said: "We are about empowering this generation of young people in their 20s to engage in a dialogue of democracy and to tell their stories about what's going in their lives in the dominant media of our time."

But Mr Gore, 57, who lost out in a hard-fought presidential campaign to George W Bush in 2000, said Current would not be a political mouthpiece.

'Two-way TV'

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

He said the San Francisco-based channel would launch on 1 August and be available to 19 million subscription viewers.

Its "pod" segments, styled on an iPod digital music player's ability to play a wide variety of styles, will also cover topics such as technology, music, parenting and career advice.

And a deal with Google will provide details of the top search topics twice an hour.

Mr Gore said he was frustrated that television has traditionally been a "one-way" medium dominated by large companies.

"The $100,000 television camera has become a $3,000 high-definition camera, and the $250,000 editing console has become a $1,000 Apple computer program," he said.

"The five-person crew can be one young woman in her 20s with something the size of a handbag."

Chris Schuepp
Young People's Media Network - Coordinator
c/o ECMC (European Centre for Media Competence)
Bergstr. 8 / 10th floor
D-45770 Marl - Germany
Tel.: +49 2365 502480
Mobile: +49 176 23107083
Fax: +49 12126 23107083
Email: cschuepp@unicef.org
URL: www.unicef.org/magic
Mailing list: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/youthful-media
The YPMN is supported by UNICEF and hosted by the ECMC.
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