Television

Al Gore close to hatching deal with Vivendi

NEW YORK: When NBC finalised the deal to buy Vivendi Universal Entertainment [VUE] many thought that Al Gore's aim of launching a news channel to counterbalance Fox News's conservative bias had come to an end. Those people might have to do a rethink.

The former US VP is said to be near striking a $70 million deal to acquire Newsworld International. This is a small cable network owned by Vivendi Universal.

Media sources have indicated that Gore and his backers want to turn the digital channel into a liberal-leaning network. His partners include ex-Democratic fund-raiser Joel Hyatt and media investment banker Steve Rattner, who's said to be lining up financing.

A report in the New York Times states that NWI is carried in only 20 million homes, NWI airs newscasts from around the world, including reports from the Canadian Broadcasting Co. Theoretically Gore could gut the channel for its bandwidth and reformat it for his own purposes. Interestingly Barry Diller, who sold the property to Universal had originally planned to transform . His vision was for a hipper, edgier news channel that could be an non-ideological answer to Rupert Murdoch's Fox News.

It is possible that Vivendi could get the nod to sell NWI to Gore as part of a potential deal with NBC. Until now NBC has not tendered any cash with its partnership offer.

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