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Current TV Hires Olbermann to Host Show, Run News

Keith Olbermann
Keith Olbermann attends Defying Inequality: The Broadway Concert at the Gershwin Theatre in New York. Photographer: Amy Sussman/Getty Images

Feb. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Keith Olbermann, the former MSNBC host, is starting a news and commentary show on Current TV, a cable channel co-founded by Al Gore.

Olbermann, who left MSNBC last month after serving a two-day suspension over political donations in November, is receiving equity in the company and will serve as chief news officer, New York-based Current Media said today in a statement.

Current TV is available in 75 million homes worldwide and, with Olbermann on air, the privately held company expects distribution to climb further, Gore said today on a conference call. Led by Olbermann and other liberal voices such as Rachel Maddow, MSNBC had moved past CNN into second place behind Fox News in cable-news ratings, according to Brad Adgate, a researcher at Horizon Media, an advertising company in New York.

Olbermann’s arrival “will be significant in gaining more distribution,” Current Media co-founder Joel Hyatt said. “It’s significant in terms of fans he’ll bring to our network, some for the first time. In every respect the business implications of this are huge.”

The network will allow Olbermann, 52, to make political donations as long as he discloses them to viewers, said Gore, former U.S. Vice President.

Olbermann’s show will air weeknights in prime-time starting later in 2011, the network said. Current TV is carried in 60 million U.S. homes, said the company, which doesn’t provide financial results.

An initial public offering isn’t a “top priority” for Current Media, which registered for an IPO in 2007, Hyatt said on the conference call.

“We haven’t revisited the notion,” said Hyatt, who also serves as executive vice chairman. “We don’t have a need to access the public markets, we don’t have a need for capital. It’s not a top priority at the moment.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Andy Fixmer in Los Angeles at afixmer@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net

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