Al Gore's Current TV could get kicked off of one of the country's biggest cable operators, according to Reuters.
Current has been in the news recently for its firing of, and subsequent public feuding with, Keith Olbermann. But sources told Reuters' Peter Lauria that the network could be facing serious consequences with Time Warner Cable -- which operates in 29 states and serves millions of people, including many in the all-important New York media market -- if its ratings dip.
If the numbers fall below an unspecified threshold for two consecutive quarters, Time Warner is allowed to drop the network. More troubling for Gore, a source told Lauria that Olbermann's ratings were the key factor in keeping Current above that line.
Current has struggled to gain traction since it revamped its programming strategy and set off on a news and information path. Besides the failed Olbermann show, it has added programs with Cenk Uygur, Jennifer Granholm and radio hosts Bill Press and Stephanie Miller. It has also put former New York governor and CNN host Eliot Spitzer in the prime 8 PM slot formerly occupied by Olbermann.
But the network has found itself hampered by a lack of distribution across the country, as well as a relatively obscure place on the dial. Its lower profile has meant that it has been unable to do things like post podcasts of its programming online, or air in HD.
Olbermann's ratings were just a fraction of his numbers at MSNBC. The Spitzer show attracted a paltry 47,000 viewers in its debut.
Olbermann greeted the Reuters story with a tweet on Wednesday night:
He also responded to a viewer who asked about his ratings, saying that he was operating on "the world's first camouflaged secret hidden TV channel."
Current representatives told Reuters that they fully expected to meet their obligations with Time Warner.