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Keith Olbermann sues Current TV for $50m

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TV presenter Keith Olbermann

© PA Images / LANDOV

Current TV is facing further woes as Keith Olbermann is suing the US network for $50m, after hitting out at 'shoddy equipment' and poor leadership at the broadcaster.

Olbermann filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit in Los Angeles yesterday, requesting that a judge rules that his former employer violated his agreement by revealing the value of his contract.

The former MSNBC talkshow host also wants it to be shown that he did not disparage the network before his firing, reports AP.

Olbermann's lawsuit fires a series of barbs at Current co-founder Joel Hyatt and network president David Borman, claiming they were responsible for many of the problems on his Countdown show.

A spokesperson for Current TV declined to comment on the lawsuit, which comes around a week after Olbermann was fired from his Countdown programme.

The suit states that "Current's dysfunction permeated all levels of the organisation".

It adds: "After being on the air for nearly eight months - long after all 'growing pains' should have ceased - Current still couldn't manage to, literally, keep the lights on."

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Olbermann's complaint lists a range of technical issues, including substandard equipment that would not operate in the rain, broken teleprompters and malfunctioning earpieces.

He also hits out at the "terrible sound and filming" of the show and cites instances of guests abruptly falling off air.

Olbermann claims that he could be owed more than $70m by Current TV. According to the filing, he has an ownership stake in the network.

"Olbermann deeply regrets his decision to put his trust in Hyatt and Gore," the lawsuit says.

"Current had neither the desire nor the ability to produce a first rate news commentary show. Olbermann did not join Current to ruin his hard-won reputation and appear on a show that was an embarrassment."

Current TV fired Olbermann on March 30 and replaced his programme with a new show hosted by former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer.

In a statement at the time, Gore and co-owner Joel Hyatt said their relationship with Olbermann no longer reflected the station's values of "respect, openness, collegiality, and loyalty to our viewers".

"We are moving ahead by honouring Current's values. Current has a fundamental obligation to deliver news programming with a progressive perspective that our viewers can count on being available daily - especially now, during the presidential election campaign," they added.

"Current exists because our audience desires the kind of perspective, insight and commentary that is not easily found elsewhere in this time of big media consolidation."

However, Olbermann accuses Hyatt in his lawsuit of erratic leadership of the network, saying that Hyatt threatened to fire him days before Countdown premiered. He also describes Hyatt and Gore as "dilettantes portraying entertainment industry executives".

Current TV is also facing problems in the UK after it was dropped from the pay-TV lineup of part-Rupert Murdoch owned satellite broadcaster Sky, putting its future as a channel here in serious doubt.

The move came within months of Sky Italia also controversially dropping the network in Italy, leading to claims that Murdoch was victimising Current TV for the initial decision to hire left-leaning news anchor Olbermann, who has often criticised Murdoch's media empire.

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