WASHINGTON – As Rupert Murdoch (search) seeks permission from Congress to expand his media empire of movie studios, television networks and the No. 1 cable news channel in the nation, former Vice President Al Gore (search) is looking to start his own news network.
Time magazine reports that Gore wants to establish what he calls "a counterbalance to the fifth column of conservative media."
"[Gore] has met with any number of wealthy potential backers and from what I understand again from sources both here in Washington and in Hollywood, he is very much engaged in this idea, very energized by it, very excited about it," Karen Tumulty, who broke the story for the magazine, told Fox News.
"At this point, it's very exploratory; certainly both the financial and the practical obstacles of something big like this are enormous," Tumulty said.
Fox News has not independently verified talk of a possible Gore news network, but sources in the know refused to knock down the story. One observer opined that one can only hope "it's more interesting to watch than his debating style."
A TV executive who has had discussions with Gore, who lost the presidential election in 2000 and announced early on that he would not run again in 2004, told The Associated Press that the idea is in its "embryonic" stages. The executive added that the concept is not intended to be a liberal rival to Fox News, which has been described as a favorite of conservatives.
Fox News, which operates the Foxnews.com Web site, shot to success in just a few years under the tutelage of Murdoch, who now wants to expand his holdings with the purchase of DirecTV (search) satellite television from General Motors (search).
Some in Washington are voicing concern about the deal that would give Murdoch a satellite distribution system with 11 million subscribers.
"Is this good for competition? Does this bring more news from diversity of views from different owners? On the contrary, it consolidates at a dangerous level the power of the entrepreneurs with First Amendment rights to control their media properties," Gene Kimmelman of the Consumers Union told a Senate Judiciary subcommittee on Wednesday.
Murdoch has promised that he will not use DirecTV as a means of message control, and that it's in his company's best interest to play fair with news and programming competitors.
"DirecTV has every incentive to draw from wider spectrum of attractive programming regardless of its source," Murdoch said. "I think there is such a multiplicity of voices everywhere that the concentration is hardly possible."
Fox News' Brian Wilson contributed to this report.