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Gore comeback bid on Indian vehicle

Washington, Aug. 17: Five years after winning the US presidential election by popular acclaim and then losing the White House to George W. Bush thanks to this country’s Supreme Court, former Vice-President Al Gore’s attempts to polish up his public persona and return to the centre-stage of American society is a mirror image of politics in Tamil Nadu.

Like Jaya TV and Sun TV in Tamil Nadu, which are vehicles for the ideologies of rivals Jayalalithaa and M. Karunanidhi, Gore has just launched his own television channel. Mercifully, it is not called Gore TV.

But in launching the new channel, which is aimed at the 18 to 34 age group of viewers ' many of whom are too apathetic to vote in American presidential elections ' Gore has relied heavily on India and Indians.

Number one among the hosts of Gore’s new TV channel, which is appropriately called Current TV, is Gotham Chopra, son of motivational speaker and author Deepak Chopra, whom Time magazine described in 1999 as “the poet-prophet of alternative medicine”.

The junior Chopra has been designated at Current TV as producer, reporter and host for one of its programmes, Current Soul.

The channel’s programming is broken up ' unlike any other channel’s ' into specific topics, such as Current Parent, Current Travel, Current Tech. Or Current Flicks.

On its opening day of programming, Current TV was littered with short pieces about oriental spirituality in the form of advice from senior Chopra.

Since the channel is aimed at young people, it also carried advice from Deepak Chopra on subjects that have immense appeal to Current TV’s target audience ' problems at work, such as dealing with a difficult boss.

The junior Chopra drew attention in India late last year, when the father-and-son team, together with film director Shekhar Kapur, formed Gotham Studios Asia to adapt Spider Man and other comics to Indian settings and sell them in Asia. Kapur is chief creative officer of Gotham Studios and the young Chopra is its president for development.

Gotham, author of a comic book, a slim novel and another work on spirituality, recently created ripples in New York society with the success of his Kama Sutra bar in the Big Apple. Before joining Current TV, he worked as an anchor for Channel One News.

Gore hopes to eventually reach 20 million American households daily through deals with local affiliates, which are under negotiation, but at the moment, the channel’s reach is largely limited to DirecTV dish customers only.

Gore is unabashed about the rationale for the new channel. Its website acknowledges that “right now, at this moment in history, TV is the most powerful medium in the world. Its reach and influence are unparalleled. It makes or breaks products and politicians alike.”

In addition to Gore, the two principal investors in Current TV are Blum Capital Partners, owned by Richard Blum, husband of California’s Democratic Senator Diane Fienstein and Yucaipa Co., owned by California’s big Democratic fund-raiser Ron Burkle.

For the moment at least, Current TV’s corporate boardroom looks very much like Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign team and unlike those of other media outlets here. The new channel’s chief executive, for instance, is Joel Hyatt, who was, chairman, national finance, of the Democratic National Committee when Gore ran for the White House.

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