NEW ORLEANS (Hollywood Reporter--Now that Al Gore is officially a "Cable Guy," the industry is questioning his grasp of the business. The former vice president made a surprise appearance last Tuesday

NEW ORLEANS (Hollywood Reporter--Now that Al Gore is officially a "Cable Guy," the industry is questioning his grasp of the business.

The former vice president made a surprise appearance last Tuesday at the National Cable & Telecommunications Assn. convention to announce that he and a group of investors have acquired NewsWorld International news channel from Vivendi Universal.

Many at the convention dismissed the Gore group's bid to restyle the modestly distributed digital cable/satellite channel as an "independent voice" for the MTV demographic. "This will be the biggest flop liberals have seen since Hillary Clinton's healthcare plan," sniffed one cable executive.

Other detractors derided Gore's proud cultivation of "independent" status in an industry where the survival of fledgling channels is contingent on how much clout their parent companies can exert to win distribution. And those, of course, are the same media conglomerates that Gore criticized in his well-attended news conference last week.

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