Media News

Al Gore's Current TV withdraws IPO, cites markets

NEW YORK, April 13 (Reuters) - Current Media Inc, parent of Current TV, the youth-focused television network launched by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, has withdrawn plans for an initial public offering.

In a letter on Friday advising U.S. securities regulators of its decision, the company cited “current market conditions.” Only two IPOs have launched so far in 2009, while 16, including, Current Media, have been canceled.

“It’s still early for a young company in this sector to be coming to market with a new issue at this point,” said David Joyce, an analyst at Miller Tabak & Co.

“Generally, the market conditions are improving, but the advertising market is still finding its bottom right now.”

Current TV might not yet have sufficient penetration with viewers to entice investors, Joyce said. There are two other publicly traded stand-alone cable companies -- Crown Media Holdings CRWN.O, best known for its Hallmark Channel, and Outdoor Channel Holdings OUTD.O.

Two female reporters for Current TV were arrested by North Korean authorities on the border with China last month. North Korea has said it intends to put the woman -- Euna Lee and Laura Ling -- on trial for unspecified “hostile acts.”

In the United States, Current TV is carried by AT&T Inc, Comcast Corp CMCSA.O, DirecTV DTV.O, EchoStar and Time Warner Cable Inc TWC.N, according to its filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Current TV has lost money each year since its launch, according to its most recent regulatory filing. .

It filed for a $100 million IPO in January 2008 but had not updated its regulatory filing since last May -- often a sign that a company is reconsidering its plans.

Current Media did not return calls seeking comment as to whether it would consider filing for an IPO at a later date.

Aimed at viewers aged 18 to 34, Current TV was launched in August 2005 to 19 million U.S. households. In May 2008, it was available in 56 million households in the United States, Britain and Ireland, according to its most recent filing.

Gore, who served as vice president under President Bill Clinton between 1993 and 2001, touted Current TV at the time of the launch as an outlet that encourages a “two-way conversation” with its audience.

Current TV received the “interactive television services” Emmy in 2007.

Current TV was converted from a defunct cable channel, Newsworld International, that a Gore-led investor group purchased in 2004 from Vivendi Universal for a reported $70 million.

The IPO was to have been underwritten by JP Morgan JPM.N and Lehman Brothers, now part of Barclays Capital BARC.L. Current Media was to trade under the stock symbol CRTM CRTM.O. (Reporting by Phil Wahba; editing by John Wallace)