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Al Gore's Current Media files for $100 million IPO

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Current Media Inc, owner of the youth-focused television network founded by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, plans to raise up to $100 million in an initial public offering on the Nasdaq stock market.

The company, of which Gore is executive chairman, owns Current TV, an interactive cable television network that features videos submitted by viewers as well as professionally produced content.

Aimed at viewers aged 18 to 34, Current TV was launched in August 2005 to 19 million U.S. households. It is now available in 51 million households in the United States, Britain and Ireland.

The network, which won a prime-time Emmy award last year, has a stated goal of “democratizing media” by engaging young adults through interactive television.

“We believe the combination of our television and Internet platforms creates an immersive and interactive viewer experience for our growing global audience, where the audience participates in both the creation and selection of the content,” Current Media said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The San Francisco-based company did not detail Gore’s equity stake after the IPO of Class A stock. Gore and Chief Executive Joel Hyatt, who co-founded the company, will control all shares of Class B stock, which carry supervoting power.

Current Media said Gore, who won the Nobel Peace Prize last year, and Hyatt have been instrumental in securing distribution and advertising agreements for Current TV. It warned that the departure of either executive would be a risk.

“In particular, if Mr. Gore were no longer actively involved in our business or no longer to hold a substantial ownership stake in us, our relationships with key distributors and our business could be materially and adversely affected,” Current Media said in the filing.

Current Media’s two main sources of revenue are from advertising and from affiliate fees paid by cable, satellite and telecommunications operators to carry Current TV.

The company reported $63.8 million in revenue in 2007, which was a 68 percent increase from the year before. But its operating expenses also increased as the company “strategically invested in our business.”

Current Media said it made a net loss of $9.9 million in 2007, compared with a $7.6 million loss in 2006. As of December 31, 2007, it had an accumulated deficit of $31.9 million.

The company paid Gore about $1.05 million in 2007 including salary and bonuses. Hyatt was paid about $1.04 million.

Current Media did not say how many of the 200 million Class A shares will be sold or their expected price. It said Current Media intends to list its common stock on Nasdaq under the symbol "CRTM" CRTM.O and plans to use the proceeds in part to repay debt.

It appointed J.P. Morgan Securities Inc JPM.N, Lehman Brothers Inc LEH.N and Pacific Crest Securities Inc as underwriters of the IPO of class A common stock, according to the filing.

Reuters/Nielsen

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