AT&T Sued Over Refusal To Air Al Jazeera America

AT&T Sued Over Refusal To Air Al Jazeera America

Al Jazeera, a broadcasting company based in Qatar, filed a lawsuit against AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T), the largest telecommunications company in the United States for refusing to  broadcast Al Jazeera America in its U-verse pay TV service, according to a report from Bloomberg.

AT&T Sued Over Refusal To Air Al Jazeera America

AT&T violated its agreement

The Qatar-based broadcasting company alleged that AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) violated its agreement with the subsidiary of Al Jazeera in the United States for declining to broadcast its channel. Al Jazeera America started airing its programs yesterday.

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According to Bloomberg, the Royal Family in Qatar purchased Al Gore’s Current TV for $500 million in January and rebranded the network to Al Jazeera America.

AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) previously said its U-verse pay-TV service will not broadcast Al Jazeera America because of an agreement dispute. The company launched its U-verse pay TV service in 2005. Currently, it has 5 million customers.

Brad Burns, spokesperson for AT&T said, “As a result of our inability to come to terms on a new agreement and due to certain breaches of the existing agreement we have decided not to carry Current TV on U-verse.”

Al Jazeera’s lawsuit filings

Al Jazeera emphasized in its filing that AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) wrongfully terminated its affiliation agreement. The lawsuit was sealed but the cover sheet provides brief details regarding the allegations.

According to Al Jazeera executives, they have no choice but to file a breach-of-contract lawsuit against AT&T after refusing to carry the news channel.

On behalf of the Al Jazeera, Stan Collender, a partner at Qorvis Communications said, “AT&T’s decision to unilaterally delete Al Jazeera America presented us with circumstances that were untenable — an affiliate that has willfully and knowingly breached its contractual obligations.” Collender added that Al Jazeera objective in filing the case is to “compel AT&T to do the right thing.”

Al Jazeera’s acquisition of Current TV

Al Jazeera’s acquisition of Current TV allows it to expand its reach to 43 million American households. The Qatar-based broadcasting company also signed agreements with Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ:CMCSA), DIRECTV (NASDAQ:DTV), and DISH Network Corp (NASDAQ:DISH).

Aside from AT&T Inc (NYSE:T), Time Warner Cable Inc (NYSE:TWC) also refused to carry Al Jazeera America in January. Maureen Huff, spokesperson for Time Warner Cable said the company is still discussing the terms of its agreement to air Al Jazeera America.

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