UPDATE 1-AT&T's U-verse TV service will not carry Al Jazeera America
Aug 20 (Reuters) - AT&T's U-verse pay-TV service said it will not carry Al Jazeera America, the cable news network funded by the emir of Qatar that debuted in the United States on Tuesday but has struggled to find distributors.
The decision was due to a contract dispute over terms to carry the new channel, AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel said. U-verse, which was launched in 2006 and had 5 million video customers as of the end of June, is a fiber-based TV service in markets such as Texas and California.
"We could not reach an agreement with the owner that we believed provided value for our customers and our business," Siegel said.
Globally, Al Jazeera is seen in more than 260 million homes in 130 countries. But the new Al Jazeera channel in the United States has so far had difficulty getting distributors in part because Al Jazeera was perceived by some as being anti-American, particularly at the height of the Iraq war.
U-verse previously had a deal in place to carry Current TV, the network that Al Jazeera acquired in January and replaced with Al Jazeera America, its attempt to make its mark in the U.S. market.
U-verse is the second TV provider to drop the channel since the Current TV acquisition. Time Warner Cable, which has 12 million customers, dropped the channel in January and has not said whether it intends to carry it again. Comcast, DirecTV, Dish and Verizon are so far carrying the network.
Al Jazeera America launched its service on Tuesday afternoon, beginning with reports about the political strife in Egypt, a shooting at an elementary school in Georgia and wildfires in the western United States.
A spokeswoman for the network could not immediately be reached for comment on AT&T's decision.
Last Friday, an Al Jazeera network spokeswoman said the channel would be available in "over 40 million homes."
Al Jazeera America tried to secure U.S. pay-TV distribution when it acquired former U.S. Vice President Al Gore's Current TV in January in a deal analysts estimated cost $500 million.