Plans for Current TV, Al Gore's interactive television network, to enter Canada are on hold for now, according to the television service's vice-president.

The news organization recently laid off 80 people as part of the tough media environment in the U.S.

Plans for a public stock offering also were cancelled.

Senior vice-president Michael Streefland told CBC News Current Media is focusing on U.S. domestic operations, including "building out a new programming lineup in the later half of the year."

In June, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission approved plans to launch Current TV in Canada.

The television service, which concentrates on covering international and domestic stories missed by traditional news outlets, was to partner with CBC.

Other priorities

A CBC spokesman said the public broadcaster also has had other priorities because it is struggling on a reduced budget this year.

"Media environment is very difficult out there," said Kaj Larsen, a journalist with Vanguard, the branch of Current Media that produces long-form TV documentaries.

"News is hard, news is tough, but part of the problem is that people are saturated with traditional news outlets and they're going to be flocking to a non-traditional news outlet with different story telling."

Larsen, speaking to CBC's Q cultural affairs show, said he was optimistic that plans to expand into Canada would eventually go ahead.

Vanguard is going the opposite direction from most media outlets, which are abandoning international coverage and "boots on the ground" journalism, he said.

Larsen argued Vanguard has already built a niche among younger viewers who shy away from traditional news sources. The service is available in Canada via the internet.

Journalists captured inside North Korea

"Actually being on the ground, talking to people, still really matters," he said. 

Larsen, a former Navy Seal who has reported from Afghanistan and Somalia, drew notoriety as one of the first journalists to undergo waterboarding when the U.S. was engaged in a debate on whether it was an ethical practice.

Current TV was also in the news earlier this year when two of its journalists were captured inside North Korea and former U.S. president Bill Clinton negotiated their release.

It's important to get stories out of areas of the world that are "under-reported," Larsen said, even where there is risk.

"We as an organization absolutely understand the perils of what we do. We never undergo risks for the sake of risks but when we do feel there's a story that's important enough to be told — whether waterboarding because of the red lines on the issue, whether North Korea because of the severe restrictions, whether it's Somalia because of ongoing civil war — we are willing to put ourselves in some sort of risk to get the story."

Neither the CBC spokesman nor Current TV's Streefland had a timetable for bringing the network to Canada.