Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
The mercurial Keith Olbermann — who reportedly clashed with his bosses at Current TV last week over whether he would be leading the fledgling network’s election coverage — tellingly wasn’t on hand this afternoon for a Current panel at TCA. Regarding Olbermann’s absence, Current president David Bohrman would say only, “Keith is on vacation.” As for Olbermann’s purported unwillingness to be a part of Current’s campaign coverage, “Keith will do our special election coverage going forward,” Bohrman said. “That’s what we want him to do. That was one of the key reasons he was brought to Current. So I expect that you will see Keith going forward leading our election coverage, and that’s what we want him to do.” When pressed, he added, “I can’t really be much more clear. We had approached Keith to do election coverage a couple of months ago. He declined. We have now been told by Keith that he will lead our coverage going forward and that is what we want to do.”
On another front, Bohrman and Current co-founder Joel Hyatt confirmed to Deadline following the panel that Current UK in England has been dropped from satcaster BSkyB’s subscription tier two months before the contract was up. The withdrawal of funding will force the channel to be shuttered in a move that mirrors the one that BSkyB used to silence Current Italia last year in Italy. (BSkyB is controlled by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.) Hyatt said, “When we hired Keith, that was viewed as a declaration of war by the Murdoch empire, and they retaliated with the platform they own in Italy and they’re now retaliating on the one they own in Britain. There are people in ther UK trying to figure out a way around this, but unfortunately they control the platform.”
Olbermann may have been MIA, but former U.S. vice president and Current co-founder Al Gore did show up. Gore denied a rumor that Current TV was for sale. “No, it’s not true, We’re not for sale. We love what we’re doing,” he said. Asked to comment on the 2012 GOP Presidential campaign thus far, Gore compared it to “a reality show where no one gets voted off the island.” He went on, “How many times has first place been claimed by a different candidate? Seven times at last count. Politics seem to have gotten crazier and crazier because it’s so dominated by Big Money. The Supreme Court, with whose opinions I have not always agreed, has decreed that corporations are people and money is free speech.”