August 20, 2013 7:04pm PT by Kimberly Nordyke
Al Jazeera America Sues AT&T Over Its Refusal to Carry the Network
Al Jazeera America has filed a lawsuit against AT&T over its refusal to carry the new cable news network.
Late Monday, the cable provider dropped Current, which switched over to Al Jazeera at 3 p.m. ET on Tuesday, meaning U-verse subscribers had no access to the new channel.
“Al Jazeera America made a decision to seek judicial intervention in its dispute with AT&T," the network said in a statement Tuesday night. "Unfortunately, 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. Accordingly, we had no choice but to take this action and to enforce Al Jazeera America's rights under its agreement with AT&T -- and to compel AT&T to do the right thing."
According to The New York Times, some U-verse subscribers complained about the cable operator's decision to drop the channel before it launched.
In a statement, AT&T told The Times that it had not yet seen the lawsuit, filed on Tuesday in Delaware Chancery court.
"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," AT&T said in its statement.
Al Jazeera America is part of the global Doha-based news organization financed by the royal family of Qatar. In the United States, AJAM is available in about 49 million of more than 100 million cable homes via Comcast DISH Network, DirecTV and FiOS.
It is not available on Time Warner Cable, which dropped Current when it was sold to Al Jazeera America's parent company. Al Jazeera executives are currently in negotiations to regain carriage on Time Warner Cable systems, but those negotiations are likely taking a backseat to the operator's heated disagreement with CBS.
Added AJAM of its dispute with AT&T: "Al Jazeera America's strong hope is to resolve this matter quickly so that AT&T's customers will have access to our unbiased, fact-based and in-depth coverage of the news that is important to Americans."