Al Jazeera loses AT&T carriage at US launch

Michelle Clancy | 21-08-2013

Al Jazeera America premiered on 20 August, replacing Current TV at 3pm Eastern time, but the network's debut was marred by AT&T's decision to unilaterally drop the channel from the U-verse line-up.

On Tuesday evening, Al Jazeera said it was looking to the court system to resolve the contract dispute.

"Unfortunately AT&T's decision to unilaterally delete Al Jazeera America presented us with circumstances that were untenable an affiliate that has wilfully and knowingly breached its contractual obligations," the network said in a statement. "We had no choice but to take this action and to enforce Al Jazeera's rights under its agreement with AT&T and to compel AT&T to do the right thing."

For its part, 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 America won't suffer too terribly from the loss; its carriage has been reduced from 48 million homes to 45 million thanks to AT&T pulling the plug. Comcast, DirecTV, DISH Network and Verizon FiOS are all making it available to portions of their customer bases. Time Warner Cable is negotiating with the channel about carrying the network.

"We will connect the world to America, and Americans to the world," the network said in kicking off its run.