Current TV plans to start building prime time programming around new acquisition Countdown and host Keith Olbermann, and eventually build out the entire day with political news and analysis.
That should be the takeaway from the hiring of David Bohrman away from CNN to be the new president of the network, said CEO Joel Hyatt. Bohrman replaces outgoing CEO Mark Rosenthal. Hyatt will remain CEO, a position he took over when Rosenthal left, he says. Hyatt and Borhman talked with B&C about the network's new direction.
Hyatt said in a release announcing the hire Monday that Olbermann had been a game-changer.
"After we got Keith Olbermann to join Current, and in the weeks and months to get Countdown launched," it became increasingly clear to Al [Gore, Current chairman] and me that what flowed from our large investment in Countdown was the strategic imperative to go all in as a political commentary and news and analysis network."
Hyatt said "all roads led to the best in the business, David Bohrman."
Bohrman exited CNN Friday and is already on the job. He said Current "has been, is and will be" a "progressive" network, "though not to the exclusion of other views." Bohrman added it would be an "intelligent, vital forum for discussing the issues of the day. It is not going to be a lot of shoutfest," he said, which is one of the problems he sees with cable news in general over the past few years. Instead, it would be a platform for "interesting, informative, enlightened discussions."
Bohrman was just named SVP and chief innovation officer for CNN Worldwide in March, but jumped at the chance to work at Current. "I would agree that is one of the coolest job titles in television, but I think what I started today is probably the coolest job in television."
He said that job is to reinvent the network and learn lessons from the last few years of cable news. The dysfunction in Washington reflects "the dysfunction of much of what we have seen in cable TV, which is constant partisan bickering and posturing," Bohrman said.
Bohrman said there are no plans to build a breaking news operation, but that he would be "building out an entire day's worth of programming that fits within the new mission of Current. To be the coach and build a whole new team and whole new offense will be a blast for me, and I think at the end of the day we will be creating something our viewers are going to watch."
According to Bohrman, the channel will definitely look different, calling it a programming day that is "coherent and makes sense and...is related to the news and info of the day." He said there will be an occasional podcast, "but the profile and feel of this network will change. A current of fresh air is about to blow into Current."
Olbermann will be a "partner" in coming up with new programming and direction, said Borhman. "I think we will end up being a really interesting team. "