Current TV said Friday afternoon that it had terminated the contract of its lead anchor, Keith Olbermann, scarcely a year after he was hired to reboot the fledgling channel in his progressive political image.
The cable channel indicated that he had failed to honor the terms of his five-year, $50 million contract, giving the channel the right to terminate it. Starting Friday night, the former New York Gov. Eliot L. Spitzer will take over Mr. Olbermann’s 8 p.m. time slot.
Mr. Olbermann responded to Current’s announcement by stating that “the claims against me in Current’s statement are untrue and will be proved so in the legal actions I will be filing against them presently.”
Current executives declined interview requests about the termination, apparently due to the expected legal action. But in a letter to viewers, the channel’s founders, Al Gore and Joel Hyatt, wrote: “We created Current to give voice to those Americans who refuse to rely on corporate-controlled media and are seeking an authentic progressive outlet. We are more committed to those goals today than ever before. Current was also founded on the values of respect, openness, collegiality, and loyalty to our viewers. Unfortunately these values are no longer reflected in our relationship with Keith Olbermann and we have ended it.”
The New York Time contributed to this report.