Al Gore’s TV Network Plays up the Internet

Current TV, a television network that sets out to encourage “citizen journalism,” has overhauled its Web site to encourage more audience collaboration.

The television network, co-founded in 2005 by Al Gore and Joel Hyatt, is supported by advertising, including viewer created ads.

Current.com will likely follow a similar model that includes sponsorships, said Joshua Katz, president, marketing at Current. However, he emphasized that the business model will evolve, based on audience feedback.

Katz, in an interview Monday, characterized the television network’s initial Web site, current.tv, as serving the producer community. There, participants could submit pods, or short-form video, and vote on the videos they wanted to see televised.

The updated Web site, he said, is designed as a social news network. There, participants can take assignments to produce video as well as add links and comments to other content, among other activities online. “What makes this different [from other television networks] is that there’s real collaboration between us and our audience,” Katz said.

“This is intended to be a two-way conversation — interactive TV influencing the Web, with the Web influencing TV. The cycle continues between the two, creating a new form of citizen journalism.”

In September 2006, Current struck a partnership with Yahoo to launch several ad-supported video channels on Yahoo Video. When asked about that partnership, Katz said it no longer exists. “It wasn’t a partnership we found beneficial,” he said. Current continues to work with Google, which provides reports on the top clicked news headlines.

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