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July 31, 2005 9:52 PM   Subscribe

Current TV --Al Gore's new news channel, just launched. What began as an effort to challenge Rupert Murdoch and the right-wing domination of the corporate media has transformed into a business proposition to lure a youth audience with lofty rhetoric, new technology and pop-culture content, says The Nation. So, CNN for MTV viewers? or a real alternative voice? the status bar onscreen is just ridiculous, i already find.
posted by amberglow (41 comments total)
so far, it's interesting, but not special...short pieces, no anchor but some sort of team of vjs, very handheld camera-ish...

Of course, there's a blog too
posted by amberglow at 9:56 PM on July 31, 2005

It is really going to be painful if this goes the way of DrKoops website. Offhand, I think this is going to bloat up (gee, just like Gore after 2000 elections!) and fade. I also have this really weird Billy Beer premonition.
posted by buzzman at 10:18 PM on July 31, 2005

eventually people will be able to submit their own pieces for air, but that part of the site isn't up yet (a mistake i think)
posted by amberglow at 10:30 PM on July 31, 2005

actually if it could have the quality of news MTV does I'd be damn impressed. The best and most informative hour of news I saw all election season was hosted by Sway on MTV news. They covered around 5 issues including gay marriage, drug use, the war on terrorism, health care and then went in depth on each candidates position. Not sound bites, but what their stated position would mean to young people.

it brought a tear to my eye. I then turned to CNN to see Karen Hughes debating Kerry's communications director for a half hour and cried a lot more
posted by slapshot57 at 10:32 PM on July 31, 2005

Following the "Get Current - Find the channel here" button and making up some information, this is what it says:

Welcome to CURRENT - a new conversation with TV. Thanks to Comcast we can connect with each other and really interact. Who knew it could be so good? Check out the Studio to find out how to start the convo. Looking forward to it.

If you do not currently subscribe to Comcast and are interested in getting CURRENT, please call 1-888-255-5789.

What does this mean? Maybe I'm missing something, but I just wanted to know what channel this was on.

Is "convo" short for conversation?
posted by SAC at 10:33 PM on July 31, 2005

yup. They're on TimeWarner here and in every area they are, i think. They took the slot NWI had, if you had that channel (which i found to be a good alternative to CNN, with tons of CBC? news content.)

slapshot--the one interesting piece i saw this past hour was someone in Tehran interviewing students on sexuality and stuff--very good. (i'm not their target demographic tho--i wonder whether MTV viewers automatically change the channel when it's news break?)
posted by amberglow at 10:40 PM on July 31, 2005

I actually like the progress bar in the lower left -- I wish it were a little smaller and less obtrusive. Given the channel's format, I think it's a nice idea to show how far into a segment you are and when the next one starts. But I can do without the updates, previews, and other junk that creeps onto the screen every 20 seconds.
posted by brain_drain at 10:45 PM on July 31, 2005

Maybe if it was smaller, i wouldn't mind it as much.

I wonder how often it all gets repeated (a la Headline News).
posted by amberglow at 10:47 PM on July 31, 2005

Rush Limbaugh is free. "Current" isn't going to be, and I think that is what will eventually sink it. It will start off with a lot of upscale advertising that is beyond Current's actual readers and watchers, and when the advertisers get no returns, they don't renew. Current drops down to clothes and liquor ads, pseudo-ganster type neuvo city products, alienates the upscale audience that is still around, the audience goes away, and Current goes downstream.

I hope this is all wrong. I listen to Limbaugh because he is cheap amusement and easy to find. Liberality has yet to penetrate a lot of media because (as a friend once said), "That's because we all have six disc CD changers in our cars and DVD players in our homes".
posted by buzzman at 10:53 PM on July 31, 2005

Is "convo" short for conversation?

Yes. Conversation for lazy people who are too bothered with having to spell and entire word (the same people who insist on abbreviating "July" with "Jul").

sorry - just one of my pet-peeves
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 10:56 PM on July 31, 2005


I share your pet peeve -- abbreviations due to extreme sloth -- but the abbreviation for "July" is not shortened (at least by me) for purposes of brevity. Instead, I shorten it to "Jul" for reasons of uniformity. After all, "January" becomes "Jan," "February" becomes "Feb," etc., so I shorten to "Jul" just for consistency. I know, a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, but I'll live with myself.
posted by Chasuk at 11:05 PM on July 31, 2005

It's not lazy- it's calculated language design. Bear with me, but imagine, for a moment, Brittany Murphy or Mary-Kate & Ashley Olsen:

"Current is live in like ten minutes."

"I'm so blogging this right now"

They even have my new internet pet peeve, the e-mail punctuation '...' (alternately extended ad infinitum)


I give up. This is focus-group/Maxim/Cosmo stuff. Current Hottie?
posted by markovitch at 11:18 PM on July 31, 2005

I am surprised they are not streaming it online.
posted by robliberal at 11:21 PM on July 31, 2005

I must current see.

This sounds like a great idea. Hopefully this will work well. It really looks pretty interesting.

It's a pity it isn't going to be more of a Liberal tabloid to counter the right's tabloid TV news station.

If they'd distribute a best of via Bit Torrent every day (even with ads) that would be really innovative.
posted by sien at 11:49 PM on July 31, 2005

wow. somebody needs to get these people an audio compressor. i've been jockeying the volume button on my remote since I switched it on. interesting format but if they keep up with this MTV style acoustic attack i'm done. does anybody else notice this stuff or have i descended into the final level of audiophile hell?
posted by skatz at 11:56 PM on July 31, 2005

To those of us who work in the media in the Bay Area, Current, formerly INdTV, looks like the worst excesses of the dot com era. We were all filled with hope when they first showed up because, frankly, the media biz in SF is slow and we need more happening here. We're like LA's bastard stepchild sometimes, although there's a great underground and indie film/TV scene.

Many successful businesses start small and catch on quickly...building buzz as they go. (i.e. Google started in a garage and never advertised). But Current came in and, throwing wads of cash around, have been trying to establish hip cred by just announcing that they're hip. They ensconced in a swanky office with exposed brick and fancy Aeron chairs, they've had a few big dot com-style launch parties, but more than anything else, they're trying desperately to be the coolest kids on the block.

Meanwhile, they've managed to alienate the entire cadre of semi-professionals and professionals in the city who might actually want to work for them by treating them without much respect. (Much of the dreadful saga is outlined here.)

Needless to say, most of us kinda think they're going to flame out and fast. They must be spending dot com $$ on overhead ... while getting a lot of content from young kids with video cameras willing to produce amateurish videos for a paltry $250 compensation just for the chance to "Be on TV! Cool!"

It all comes down to advertisers and viewers. I just can't imagine anyone watching this - I hope I'm wrong, but the whole thing reeks of ego, greed, and groupthink.
posted by debris at 12:16 AM on August 1, 2005

39 is now the enlistment age (soon to br 42). If you're over, talk your kids into it. Go fight the war on terrorism for all of us. Make us better people.
posted by bardic at 3:45 AM on August 1, 2005

seconding SAC, it's annoying to get the third degree when all you want to know is, 'what channel is this on in my area?' Did Current assume most people would give their real contact information in exchange? What is it, a secret? I can see the poor interns sifting through it all now <:-O
posted by nj_subgenius at 4:19 AM on August 1, 2005

Maybe I'm missing something, but I just wanted to know what channel this was on.

'Zackly. I clicked on the links to see if anybody is going to carry it in Columbus, and I wound up getting a bunch of blanks to fill in so I can ask my cable provider to carry it. I'm not interested in buying a pig in a poke.
posted by alumshubby at 5:16 AM on August 1, 2005

amberglow: FYI, you forgot to paste in the link to The Nation.
posted by aaronetc at 5:41 AM on August 1, 2005

i just realized that myself--here's the Nation article
posted by amberglow at 5:45 AM on August 1, 2005

The Nation is an old Stalinist publication... literally.

Not surprising that amberglow, the Maoist, finds it a reliable source of information.

For those of you who missed it, she starred as PC executioner in the my Star Chamber interrogation for failure to toe the party line. She must have played this role throughout her years in college. She's living now in nostalgia for the days when she could run the PC re-education camp and terrorize the heretics.

We know now what is troubling Amberglow. She is what she imagines George Bush to be.

And she's stewing with resentment because her feminist and gay activist professors lied to her. There are no jobs in the real world for PC prosecutor and executioner. Quite a shock, huh?

And, Al Gore is corporate America. Another deception that you can't figure out, amberglow.
posted by Shouting at 6:11 AM on August 1, 2005

Shouting, please stop, uh, shouting. Espeically if you're not making sense.
posted by zpousman at 6:30 AM on August 1, 2005

Shouting, I have no idea what you just said. I'm not saying that in a negative way, I'm just commenting that I can't figure out what you're talking about.

That aside, I'm not to enthused about this Current TV thing. It's for the people...but you have to pay a cable subscription fee to media conglomerates to see it. It's apart from the establishment....except that it gets its revenue from the same corporate advertisers as every other channel. It's new and independent... except that it's headed up by a career politician, who presides over a team of fairly traditional corporate officers. It's a channel of substance, that talks about what matters...except that many of the topics they've mentioned are meaningless fluff, overscene by that great news commentator, Depak Chopra's son. I'd like this channel to be good, but I suspect it won't be. It'll be the MTV of news, that is, it'll be a place for people to watch "on the edge" programming that's really brought to you by the same old guys in suits that run the other channels.
posted by unreason at 6:33 AM on August 1, 2005

I didn't like the third degree just to see their broadcast listings either. So, I sent them an e-mail asking if they could justify the requirement. I sent this e-mail at one in the morning Eastern (US) time. I had a reply by 9 A.M., from a live person (or a great automated system.)

The official response is that they are able to give a more accurate response if you provide them with your street address. However, they agree that the rest of the information that they ask for should be unnecessary and they are trying to address the issue.

To be honest, I like that response. I'll like it even more if I go back to the website in a few weeks and see that they have indeed changed the policy.
posted by oddman at 6:47 AM on August 1, 2005

Mod note: I'm leaving Shouting's comment as a "this crosses the line" marker, but giving him some time off. FYI.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:48 AM on August 1, 2005 [1 favorite]

From their "blog"

Also, if you want to know if it's playing in your area, you can look at Yahoo's TV listings. I don't have it here, and I'm not exactly dissapointed, it seems like a bunch of preening BS.

MTV news may have put together one or two good shows during the election, but in general it sucks. Mostly PR from music conglomerates.
posted by delmoi at 8:43 AM on August 1, 2005

[I'm leaving Shouting's comment as a "this crosses the line" marker, but giving him some time off. FYI.]

posted by delmoi at 8:43 AM on August 1, 2005

Wait a minute, this bullshit is replacing NWI?

posted by PinkStainlessTail at 8:56 AM on August 1, 2005

My first interaction with Current was trying to figure out what channel it is on DirecTV. If you click on "find CurrentTV" and then put in DirecTV, they require your full name, address, zip, age, and email in order to get the channel number.

Jojo Huginkiss at 123 Fake street now knows it is channel 366, but that was totally unnecessary.
posted by mathowie at 9:03 AM on August 1, 2005

yeah, sure whatever.

All i know is I get up this foggy morning and turn on my TV expecting NWI, and I get this Current stuff.

Where's the CNBC?

Where's the NEWS coverage comcast?
posted by Relay at 9:04 AM on August 1, 2005

Ah, but on NWI's website front page:

On August 1, 2005, NWI re-launched with a new slate of programming and a new name: Current.

On behalf of everyone working at NWI, thank you for your years of support and viewership.

Questions about future availability of CBC programming should be directed to

Note that CBC's The National is available online

Gee, thanks.
posted by Relay at 9:14 AM on August 1, 2005

What began as an effort to challenge Rupert Murdoch and the right-wing domination of the corporate media has transformed into a business proposition to lure a youth audience with lofty rhetoric, new technology and pop-culture content, says The Nation.

But Al Gore assured me it would be nonpartisan!!

posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 10:18 AM on August 1, 2005

It is non-partisan--and it's not news at all. It's more mini-docs and human-interest and lifestyle/service stories.
posted by amberglow at 10:53 AM on August 1, 2005

Thanks Jessamyn. I suspected it crossed some line, but since I couldn't understand it after four readings I wasn't even sure what line that might be.
posted by OmieWise at 10:58 AM on August 1, 2005

I just don't understand why I can't watch it online... ?!? I spent five minutes trying to click on the site in what looked like a really cool flash video integration assuming I could actually watch the segments... I even loaded up IE thinking it might not have been designed with Firefox in mind.. but no, it's just a really slick up-to-the-minute program guide.
posted by jgilliam at 3:17 PM on August 1, 2005

The website crashes Opera 8.02. Great job, Al.
posted by gyc at 3:45 PM on August 1, 2005

GYC: Look, he invented the internet. If Opera doesn't work with Al, it's because Opera doesn't belong on the internet.
posted by klangklangston at 4:59 PM on August 1, 2005

They're already repeating stuff from last night i see.
posted by amberglow at 7:44 PM on August 1, 2005

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