Current TV Hires Former MSNBCer Cenk Uygur

Host following in Keith Olbermann's footsteps

Current TV has announced the addition of a new personality to its prime-time lineup. Cenk Uygur, who was ousted from his position as host of MSNBC Live in July, will anchor a news analysis program on Current called The Young Turks, starting in the fourth quarter of this year.  

“Cenk is one of a kind,” said Current co-founder Al Gore on a conference call with reporters Tuesday afternoon. “He has the most successful news and political commentary channel on YouTube, and he has a record of experience and great success in the television medium.”

Gore was referring to the YouTube broadcast that Uygur hosts (also called The Young Turks) that Uygur says boasts an audience of 1 million unique visitors per day. Current executives are hoping that his digital following will transfer over to the network, the same way that Keith Olbermann brought many of his viewers from MSNBC to Current after he joined the network in February. “We believe that Cenk is going to have a television show that [will] be enormously attractive to his existing following, and, of course, the TV platform has the opportunity to bring many new viewers,” said Current CEO Joel Hyatt, adding, “We love the fact that Cenk has this huge online following, and keep in mind that the original roots of what Al and I started here at Current was to be a multiplatform network.”

Uygur’s appointment comes on the heels of a number of other high-profile personnel announcements in recent months. Last week, Current appointed Shelley Lewis as executive vice president in charge of programming. Earlier this summer, Current saw a major reshuffling of its executive ranks, as network co-founder Joel Hyatt appointed himself CEO, prompting the resignation, in July, of Mark Rosenthal, who had been CEO since 2009. In August, Current hired David Borhman away from his post as Washington bureau chief at CNN, appointing him president of the network.

On the conference call, Hyatt reiterated that Current is in the midst of a large-scale rebranding, “becoming a news analysis and commentary network,” he said.

Current executives said that they will soon be announcing a new, similar commentary program to follow Olbermann’s at 9 p.m., with an eye toward having a full prime-time lineup by January—though they declined to identify who else they are considering for those slots. Bohrman said that ultimately the goal is to build up a full day’s worth of news analysis programming.