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Al Jazeera America Takes Legal Action Against AT&T

On the day of its debut, Al Jazeera America filed suit against AT&T’s U-verse on Tuesday after the telco dropped the upstart news channel.

In a statement, Al Jazeera America said that it “made a decision to seek judicial intervention in its dispute with AT&T. 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.”

Al Jazeera filed its claim against AT&T in Delaware Chancery Court, citing wrongful termination of an affiliation agreement and failure to carry its signal. It claims breach of contract and seeks a judgment that AT&T is obligated to carry the channel.

The dispute signals the challenges that Al Jazeera America faces as it launches, having acquired Current TV’s distribution platform earlier this year. Al Jazeera America is pitching itself as a serious competitor to other news channels, but also a contrast to the partisan bent of Fox News and MSNBC.

“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,” Al Jazeera America said in its statement.

AT&T said in a statement that “as a result of our inability to come to terms on a new agreement and due to certain breaches by Al Jazeera of the existing agreement we have decided not to carry Current TV on U-verse.”

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