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Keith Olbermann’s New Gig, Revealed: “Chief News Officer, Current Media”

Less than three weeks after his high-visibility departure from MSNBC, Keith Olbermann has revealed his next step. Fittingly, Olbermann scooped his own news conference with a tweet: “Greetings from Keith Olbermann, Chief News Officer of Current Media! And awayyyyyy we go!”

The title comes in addition to executive producing and hosting a new nightly primetime news and commentary show at Current. Olbermann will also have an equity stake in Current Media. “We’re delighted to have Keith as a partner,” said Al Gore, one of Current’s founders.

In his new role, Olbermann will debut a new nightly show sometime in “late Spring.” The five-nights-a-week show will air in primetime (the exact timeslot, along with the precise start date are still undetermined), and Olbermann described it as “an improved and amplified” version of Countdown. The show will be produced at studios in New York City.

In addition to hosting the new show, Olbermann will consult and executive produce additional programming for Current, which could include bringing new hosts to the network as part of a primetime lineup of news and politics.

Asked if Olbermann would be allowed to make political contributions as Chief News Officer, Gore said “The answer is yes,” adding that he believed every employee had a right to make contributions, as long as those contributions were fully disclosed to viewers. Olbermann was suspended by MSNBC for donations, a dustup that was seen by many as a final straw in his deteriorating relationship with bosses.

Olbermann announced on January 21 that the Friday night edition of Countdown would be his last, a surprise to viewers but not executives at MSNBC, who had been anticipating an exit for the star for months. Despite Olbermann’s status as the transformative host who brought left-wing politics–and ratings success–to the network, MSNBC’s sendoff was sterile:

“MSNBC and Keith Olbermann have ended their contract. The last broadcast of “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” will be this evening. MSNBC thanks Keith for his integral role in MSNBC’s success and we wish him well in his future endeavors.”

Insiders reported network execs had grown tired of Olbermann’s conflicts with co-workers and management–and with rising stars Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell in place–it was decided parting ways would be best for the network and Olbermann, who had also been interested in leaving.

Here’s the full announcement:

KEITH OLBERMANN TO HOST MAJOR NEW NIGHTLY PRIMETIME NEWS AND COMMENTARY SHOW ON CURRENT TV

ICONOCLASTIC BROADCASTER JOINS CURRENT MEDIA CO-FOUNDERS
AL GORE AND JOEL HYATT, WILL ALSO SERVE AS COMPANY’S CHIEF NEWS OFFICER

NEW YORK – February 8, 2011 – Keith Olbermann, the acclaimed broadcaster and writer whose verbal pyrotechnics and moral passion have outraged, informed, and dazzled viewers of “Countdown With Keith Olbermann” for the past eight years, is bringing his slashing wit, analytical eye, and distinctive commentary toCurrent Media, the Emmy® and Peabody Award-winning TV and digital media company that was founded in 2005 by Al Gore and Joel Hyatt and is now distributed in more than 75 million households around the world.

In addition to executive producing and hosting a new nightly primetime news and commentary show, Olbermann will also serve as the company’s Chief News Officer and will have an equity stake in Current Media.

The new show will air live weeknights in primetime beginning later in 2011.

“Nothing is more vital to a free America than a free media, and nothing is more vital to my concept of a free media than news produced independently of corporate interference,” said Olbermann. “In Current Media, Al Gore and Joel Hyatt have created the model truth-seeking entity. The opportunity to partner with Al, Joel and Mark Rosenthal makes this the most exciting venture in my career.”

“Keith Olbermann is a gifted thinker, an amazing talent and a powerful communicator, and having him tap Current as his new home is exciting and very much in line with the core vision we founded this network on: To engage viewers with smart, provocative and timely programming,” said Al Gore, Chairman and co-founder of Current. “In a world where there are fewer and fewer opportunities to hear truly distinct, unfettered voices on television, we are delighted to provide Keith with the independent platform and freedom that Current can, and does uniquely offer.”

“Keith Olbermann is one of our society’s most courageous talents. He speaks truth to power. He calls them as he sees them. He speaks his mind. Our society needs his kind of thoughtful analysis and commentary,” said Joel Hyatt, Executive Vice Chairman and co-founder of Current. “Keith Olbermann is not afraid of dissenters. In his long and impressive career, he has developed a massive following of intelligent, informed people who enjoy a good debate and smart conversation. We welcome Keith and we also look forward to welcoming his fans as new Current TV viewers.”

Keith Olbermann’s show will lead a programming slate on Current that includes original and acquired TV series aimed at an influential adult audience. Current features compelling stories about everyday heroes and ordinary people in extraordinary situations, and takes you to sometimes dangerous and always intriguing places. Current shines a light on controversial subjects, tackling hot issues of the day in a thoughtful and sometimes humorous way. Current engages its viewers by sparking debate and discussion, and via interactive formats that allow viewers to inform its stories.

“We’re very excited to welcome Keith Olbermann to Current,” said Mark Rosenthal, CEO, Current Media. “Current is aimed at viewers who seek authentic, thought-provoking and meaningful television and an alternative to the ‘scripted reality’ or hard news found on other non-fiction networks. Keith is one of our great provocateurs. His style and voice are perfectly aligned with the programming we’ve developed to deliver on what those viewers demand.”

About Current Media:
Current Media, the Peabody-and Emmy Award-winningtelevision and online network founded in 2005 by Al Gore and Joel Hyatt, engages viewers with smart, provocative and timely programming –stories that no one else is telling in ways that no one else is telling them. Current’s programming shines a light where others won’t dare and boldly explores important subjects — opening minds, sparking conversations and forming deep connections with its viewers. The channel’s audience is comprised of affluent, curious, social and connected adults who crave the kind of entertaining, enlightening, witty and informative programming found on Current’s TV and online properties. Current is now available via cable and satellite TV in 75 million households worldwide – 60 million households in the US – through distribution partners Comcast (Channel 107); Time Warner ; DirecTV (Channel 358 nationwide); Dish Network (Channel 196 nationwide); Verizon and AT&T. In the UK and Ireland, Current is available on BSkyB (Channel 183) and Virgin Media (Channel 155), and in Italy, Current is available on Sky Italia (Channel 130). Viewers can also find Current online at www.current.com.

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