UPDATE: Al Jazeera has filed a suit against AT&T after the company dropped the just-launched network earlier today.
Al Jazeera released the following statement:
“Al Jazeera America 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. 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.
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.”
EARLIER: New channel Al Jazeera America officially launched this afternoon, but many cable viewers won’t be able to access it.
AT&T U-verse has dropped the channel, EW has confirmed. “We dropped the current TV channel, and will not carry Al Jazeera America, on U-verse due to contract disputes. We could not reach an agreement with the owner that we believed provided value for our customers and our business,” an AT&T spokesperson said in a statement.
Time Warner Cable dropped Current TV back in January, and is currently in negotiations to get Al Jazeera America, which they don’t currently offer. A rep for Time Warner Cable told EW, “We’re in discussions.”
Al Jazeera America is the first cable news channel to launch since Fox News back in 1996; it will take over Current TV’s airwaves. The Wrap points out that today Al Jazeera America is available in about 48 million homes, compared to about 100 million for its competitors.