Save Current TV in Italy May 19, 2011 : 2:00 PM

I'm in Rome today to help support independent journalism and save Current TV in Italy.

Sky Italia Plans to Drop Current TV, Italy’s Only Independent Information Channel

Current Co-Founder and Chairman Al Gore Arrives in Rome to Support Grassroots Effort to Save Current TV

Rome, Italy, May 19, 2011 -- Current TV has been told it will be dropped by Sky Italia, the only satellite television distributor in the country. Current was founded by Al Gore and Joel Hyatt six years ago, and was launched in Italy three years ago, with a mission to democratize television via new forms of participatory media. Today, the company is the only independent news and information channel delivering a platform for independent producers and commentators in Italy, the US and the UK, and has become the industry’s fastest growing cable and satellite network reaching more than 75 million households worldwide.

Current Co-Founder and Chairman Al Gore travelled to Rome and spoke with reporters today about Sky Italia’s sudden decision. He also spoke in support of a viewer-driven grassroots campaign demanding that Sky reverse its decision and continue to carry Current Italia.

The sudden decision comes as Current Italia has proven to be a popular choice for viewers in just three short years. An analysis of data from Auditel, the leading television ratings research firm in Italy, confirms that a third of Sky Italia subscribers watch Current every week. In addition, according to majormarketing intelligence firm GN Research, nearly 20 percent of respondents picked Current as one of their top 5 favorite channels; and of those subscribers who call Current a favorite channel, about 20% of them – or close to 4% of Sky Italia’s subscriber base – say that they would cancel Sky Italia if they didn’t carry Current. Also, according to a 2010 Auditel-Starcom annual survey, Current’s market share grew 270% in day time and 550% in prime time while growth across the Sky platform was flat.

“In this time of rapid political, economic and social transition, the future of healthy democracies depends on independent journalism that is untethered and unafraid. We at Current have dedicated our international media platform to unleash truth tellers, and there is no more critical time for truth telling than in Italyright now,” said Current co-Founder and Chairman Al Gore. “I came to Italy to personally ask Current’s loyal viewers here to tell Sky they want to keep Current."

Referring to the implications of the decision taken by Sky Italia, which is 100% owned and controlled by News Corporation (NASDAQ: NWS, NWSA; ASX: NWS, NWSLV), Current Co-Founder and Executive Vice Chairman Joel Hyatt commented: “If regulators in the United Kingdom or the European Union are wondering what the impact will be of having a satellite system totally owned and controlled byNews Corporation, they need only look to Italy. Sky Italia – in what can only be described as a flagrant abuse of its dominant market position – just kicked off the only independent news and information network on its platform without warning, and despite repeated assurances that Current's contract berenewed. It is ironic that Sky markets its satellite offering as being the ‘Freedom Choice.’ In fact, News Corporation wants what they own and control to be the only choice.”

Current Italia launched in 2008. Tom Mockridge, the CEO of Sky, joined Al Gore at launch, announcing to Italian consumers: “Being the leading global network for the transmission and sharing of news and current affairs, Current is today an important voice for the young adult generation. We are happy to introduce this innovative channel in Italy.”

At a time when most media companies are curtailing their investments in journalism and high-quality newsgathering, Current TV has increased resources earmarked for covering important news stories for its viewers. Current Italia just recently won the prestigious Hot Bird TV Award for the Best News Network in all of Europe, a prize Current shared with BBC World News. Year after year, thechannel has won every prestigious journalism award for its groundbreaking investigatory series “Vanguard,” including the Peabody Award, The Emmy Award, the Livingston Award and the DuPont Award.

With a programming lineup that is 90% Italian produced and acquired news series, documentaries and specials, Current Italia has become the trusted source for local information and commentary in Italy. “We are the only media channel in Italy that has the courage to use our channel to speak truth to power. Whether debuting the “Berlusconi” documentary, or providing a refuge for Annozero when Michele Santoro was banned from RAI last year, or bringing Roberto Saviano’s story to television, we have used our media to inform, enrich and inspire our audience,” says General Manager Tommaso Tessarolo.