Saturday, September 20, 2014

Al Jazeera countersues Al Gore over $65 million

(Reuters) - Broadcaster Al Jazeera has gone to court to fight former U.S. vice president Al Gore over $65 million in an escrow account that each claims as part of the sale last year of Current TV to the Qatar-based media company.

In a countersuit filed in the Delaware Court of Chancery on Thursday, Al Jazeera is seeking to keep the money that Gore and his former partner Joel Hyatt had sought in a lawsuit filed in August.

Al Jazeera bought Current TV for an estimated $500 million in 2013, using the fledgling network to launch a U.S.-based news channel, Al Jazeera America. The deal was a way for Al Jazeera to pick up Current TV's agreements with cable and satellite operators that would give Al Jazeera instant access to American households.

Al Jazeera rejected claims in Gore's suit that it breached its contract by trying to improperly access the funds to pay cable distributors.

In his suit Gore, who ran an unsuccessful campaign for president in 2000, alleges Al Jazeera unlawfully refused to turn over tens of millions of dollars in the account to Current TV shareholders.

The Current TV sale was initially resisted by distributors including Time Warner Cable and AT&T, which argued that they had contracted with Current TV and not Al Jazeera.

In the countersuit Al Jazeera said that Gore and Hyatt's suit "contains outright falsehoods, including fraud and bad faith claims as well as the false allegation that Gore and Hyatt had 'serious reservations' about selling their defunct company to Al Jazeera." The document listed several public remarks made by Gore and Hyatt praising the deal. Both suits are partially redacted.