Al Jazeera America’s First Day Ends With Lawsuit

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Photo: Chang W. LeeCHANG W LEE/The New York Times/Redux© The New York Times

Al Jazeera America's first day was a little rough. Late Monday night, one of America's larger cable providers, AT&T U-verse, abruptly announced that it was dropping Current TV, which transformed into Al Jazeera America on Tuesday afternoon. The decision, which AT&T attributed to an unspecified contract dispute, reduced the number of homes with access to the new news channel by as much as 5 million. On Tuesday evening, Bloomberg reported that Al Jazeera had responded to the programming change with a lawsuit accusing AT&T of "wrongful termination of an affiliation agreement."

In a statement, Al Jazeera said, "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. 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." The network is seeking monetary damages in addition to the restoration of its spot on AT&T's roster.

For customers of AT&T, Time Warner (which dropped the channel back in January and is still negotiating a deal to carry it in the future), and other non-participating cable providers — or people unable to watch television at 3 p.m. on a Tuesday — the New York Times's Brian Stelter uploaded a video of the station's first five minutes: