Article published in Dropline.biz on March 6, 2006
“Former Union Activist Al Gore Owns Nonunion Television Network”
By Stephen Alexander (co-authored by Dino M. Zaffina)
Current TV, LLC is a disappointment to the network industry and the union laborers. What was once envisioned as a bottom-up alternative to the propaganda-rich conglomerate network news has instead emerged as a kind of MTV-News, without the news. Call it too 90s, too hip, too marketed, or too stylish, but the real crime here is not what Current TV is or does, but rather the opportunity that was missed.
Current TV is a new cable and satellite network that was co-founded and is currently chaired by former United States Vice President Al Gore. This San Francisco based station (118 King Street, San Francisco, California 94107) with a second station in Los Angeles (1136 N. Highland Avenue, Hollywood, California 90038) is a disappointment to all the union laborers working in California.
The network is the only independently owned television network in the country. Current TV is privately financed by Gore and legal entrepreneur Joel Hyatt, the company’s CEO, and about 20 other investors — among them financier Richard Blum, husband of California Senator Dianne Feinstein, Sun Microsystems co-founder Bill Joy, and former MTV and AOL executive Bob Pittman.
This group of investors purchased Newsworld International, a 24-hour cable network airing international news programs from the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. (which they say reaches some 19 million households in the United States), from Vivendi Universal for about $70 million.
Although alleged champion of union rights, Al Gore and other known democrats are investors in Current TV, the network is not a signatory to any union contract (i.e., I.A.T.S.E., NABET, IBEW, DGA, SAG, or AFTRA).
It has been reported to Dropline.biz that employees of the Current TV are overworked and underpaid. Crew members are being trained in multiple jobs, so that employees can double up on assignments. California state regulations governing meals, overtime, and safety issues are allegedly not recognized and employees’ complaints are falling on deaf ears.
Representatives from the DGA and AFTRA have reportedly contacted Current TV to sign a Collective Bargaining Agreement for it members. There is no evidence at this time that the I.A.T.S.E. or its Los Angeles locals have made any efforts toward organizing Current TV’s technical staff.
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