DirecTV triples damages claim in Al Jazeera lawsuit to $74.5M; gets ready to pull channel

DirecTV (NASDAQ: DTV) has nearly tripled its damages claim in its lawsuit against Qatar-based cable news programmer Al Jazeera, upping its claim from $28.5 million to $74.5 million after audits conducted in a discovery phase revealed new information.

The Hollywood Reporter obtained a June 11 filing to the Los Angeles Superior Court, in which DirecTV also revealed that its carriage agreement with Al Jazeera America expires July 31.

The additional $46 million in new claims stem from Al Jazeera's purchase of Al Gore's Current TV in January 2013. To sustain carriage on Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) of the newly re-christened Al Jazeera America, the news channel gave TWC the same favorable carriage deal it had for Current TV.

The suit contends rival pay-TV operators received "net effective rates lower than what Al Jazeera charges to DirecTV." DirecTV is looking to amend the suit to reflect this information, revealed by auditors at PricewaterhouseCoopers in discovery.

DirecTV is now backing off earlier claims that Al Jazeera's programming didn't meet the contractual specifications the satellite programmer agreed to when it licensed Current TV. In short, DirecTV's carriage deal with Al Jazeera is about to expire anyway--it no longer needs to sue to get out of it.

"While DirecTV still believes that AJA is in breach of this provision, the claim will not be resolved before July 2015, and the expiration of the agreement will therefore moot the claim before it can be decided," the filing reads.

For more:
- read this Hollywood Reporter story

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