The "Bloodbath" at Current TV

I mentioned in a Facebook post Thursday that Current TV axed 80 employees. This is sad on its own, but after reading the articles posted about this, it's actually even worse. As Current's press release states, the staff were kicked to the curb not because of a need to cut costs:

Current Media will have its most profitable year. This financial stability will allow the company to re-allocate resources in order to put further emphasis on areas of the business believed to best position Current Media for continued long-term growth.

To translate press-release-speak, the above quote can be translated into "we're making money and we want to keep doing that so screw all you local, wanna-be producers, we're going to be farming out more stuff from now on."

Launched in 2005 by Al Gore and business partner Joel Hyatt, Current originally started with the idea that it was going to be the anti-network. Not happy with what was currently on the air when it came to news networks, Gore and Hyatt's plan was to create a channel using both in-house and viewer-generated content, targeted at an 18-34 year old demographic. Instead of the usual 30 and 60 minute programs, Current ran 3-7 minute "pods" on a variety of topics from politics to Burning Man. It was the perfect channel for people with short attention spans. Every time you checked it out, something new and interesting was on.

That all changed today when it was decided to switch the channel to the tried-and-tired conventional 30/60 minute format. In addition to the firings, which works out to about 25% of the staff, several in-house productions were also canned. According to one source, its a "bloodbath" across all departments, with the heaviest hits taking place in both LA and San Francisco.

One year ago (to the date), Current let 60 employees go. This latest firing leaves the network with about 300 employees worldwide. They also recently canceled the networks efforts to go IPO.

This Summer, Current hired Mark Rosenthal to be the CEO, replacing Hyatt. Rosenthal is the former COO of MTV networks so it makes sense that a move like this would happen. Rosenthal knows its far cheaper to farm productions out than to produce them in house.

We're sure it's going to continue to make money, but I personally held on to the silly notion that it wasn't all about money. I guess I was wrong.

Perhaps the recent imprisonment of two Current journalists in March by North Korea ended up giving the network the unexpected ammunition it needed to be able to negotiate more lucrative advertising dollars.

Whatever the reason, its a damn shame. I used to like Current's different look and feel. If it puts on a suit and tie and tries to look grown up its going to lose a lot of viewers.

1 comment:

J_Jammer said...

I like their website. I use to watch the channel...but no longer have it. I was sadden to hear they pushed for longer play time with their shows when their short and to the point pods were what made them so lovable.

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