Former US Vice President Al Gore has filed a lawsuit against the Doha-based Al Jazeera Media Network over last year’s $500 million purchase of his American TV cable channel.
According to Gore’s lawyer, Al Jazeera has apparently not turned over some $65 million remaining in an escrow account, money that is owed to the selling shareholders of Current TV.
In a statement, David Boies added:
“Al Jazeera America wants to give itself a discount on the purchase price that was agreed to nearly two years ago. We are asking the court to order Al Jazeera America to stop wrongfully withholding the escrow funds that belong to Current’s former shareholders.”
Dawn Bridges, a spokeswoman for Al Jazeera America (AJAM), said that the lawsuit appears to involve a “commercial dispute” between AJAM and former Current TV shareholders.
She told Doha News that the network had no further comment at this time.
Gore’s legal counsel has also taken issue with Al Jazeera’s apparent attempt to seal its complaint. Boies was quoted as saying:
“Despite being a news organization, Al Jazeera America has said that the full complaint should be kept from the public file. We have therefore filed the complaint under seal until the Court can resolve this issue. We expect that the Court will reject Al Jazeera America’s argument.”
The Al Jazeera Media Network announced it was acquiring the flagging American cable channel Current TV in January 2013.
It’s widely believed that one of the main goals was to gain access to Current TV’s wide US distribution networks, as Al Jazeera English had been struggling to gain a foothold in the American market for six years.
However, some cable networks in the US responded to the proposed launch of Al Jazeera America last August by saying they were ending their distribution of Current TV, prompting a flurry of negotiations and some lawsuits.
AJAM is now available in some 60 million households across the US. But despite going on a hiring spree and bringing on board more than 800 American journalists and staffers, AJAM has struggled with low television ratings.
However, the New York Times reports Bridges as saying yesterday that viewership has been up due to the channel’s coverage of the Gaza conflict and protests about racism in Missouri.