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.
David Boies, the attorney for Gore and Hyatt, said in a statement, “Our complaint explains how Al Jazeera improperly tried to use our escrow funds to pay the distributors that it wants to carry its channel in the U.S.
“After trying to block our clients’ request that their entire complaint be made public, Al Jazeera has now responded by making false claims to defend its behavior.”
In its court filing, Al Jazeera said Gore and Hyatt tried to strike a “lucrative side-deal” when they were in negotiations to finalize the transaction. The countersuit alleges that Gore and Hyatt proposed to be part of an advisory board created by Al Jazeera and that they would be “paid millions of dollars” if Al Jazeera increased its subscribers or extended its contracts with cable operators.
In response Christopher Lehane, a spokesman for Gore and Hyatt, said in a statement, “News is about trust and their filing, which we can demonstrably prove is built on factual misrepresentations and contains outright falsehoods, will further degrade whatever levels of trust Qatar’s Al Jazeera has as a respectable news organization in the US.”
Al Jazeera America, which competes with CNN and Fox News, is in 55 million households. It has struggled to gain an audience- Reuters