AT&T Sued Over Refusal To Carry Al Jazeera Cable Network

Source:  Jef Feeley / Bloomberg

AT&T Inc. (T), the largest U.S. phone company, was sued by Al Jazeera for refusing to carry the Qatar-based broadcaster’s new U.S. cable-news channel as part of its pay-television service.

The Dallas-based company is violating an agreement with Al Jazeera’s U.S. unit by refusing to broadcast the channel, which began airing in the U.S. today, according to a filing in Delaware Chancery Court. The network, controlled by the Qatari royal family, paid $500 million for Al Gore’s money-losing Current TV in January and rebranded it.

AT&T’s U-verse pay-TV service said yesterday it wouldn’t carry Al Jazeera America because of a contract dispute. U-verse began in 2006 and has 5 million video customers in states including Texas and California.

AT&T officials’ decision amounts to a “wrongful termination of an affiliation agreement,” Al Jazeera said in the filing, which accompanied a sealed complaint. Details on the case came from a cover sheet that contained a brief description of the network’s claims.

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