From one Al to another
Time is money. And with capital-gains tax rates on wealthy Americans rising due to the fiscal-cliff deal, the timing difference between completing a transaction on Tuesday (in 2012) or Wednesday (in 2013) was big money.
Alas for former Vice President Al Gore and his co-owners of Current TV, their sale of the cable network to Al Jazeera didn’t beat that high-stakes deadline. From The New York Times: “Mr. Gore and his partners were eager to complete the deal by Dec. 31, lest it be subject to higher tax rates that took effect on Jan. 1, according to several people who insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. But the deal was not signed until Wednesday.”
Still, that $500 million deal packed a $440 million profit — minus those higher taxes, of course — for Mr. Gore and his fellow investors.
As for why Al Jazeera would pay so much for a cable network that averaged a dismal 42,000 viewers in the final quarter of 2012, it plans to transform it into Al Jazeera America. And Business Week reported Friday that “the cable TV environment is so forgiving that even bad programming can still be good business.”
As for why Mr. Gore would agree to sell to Al Jazeera, which is predictably tough on Israel in its “news” coverage, after rejecting an offer from a right-wing American radio/TV star, The Wall Street Journal reported: “Glenn Beck’s The Blaze approached Current about buying the channel last year, but was told that ‘the legacy of who the network goes to is important to us and we are sensitive to networks not aligned with our point of view,’ according to a person familiar with the negotiations.”
Mr. Gore, in a written statement Wednesday, said that Al Jazeera shared Current TV’s goal “to give voice to those who are not typically heard; to speak truth to power; to provide independent and diverse points of view; and to tell the stories that no one else is telling.”
Now Mr. Gore should tell us why he was in such a rush to avoid paying what President Barack Obama calls the “fair share” of taxes now owed by “wealthy” Americans.