Texas-based telecommunications giant AT&T announced the immediate suspension of its popular satellite television service in Venezuela.
Because it is impossible for AT&T’s DirecTV unit to comply with the legal requirements of both countries, AT&T was forced to close its pay TV operations in Venezuela.
Under Venezuelan law, cable and satellite providers are obligated to dedicate 8% of their total programming to nationally broadcast channels, including state-run PdVSA TV and privately-held Globovision.
US sanctions prohibit unauthorized dealings with Venezuelan state entities, including state-run television stations.
Opposition-aligned Globovision was targeted by the US Treasury Department in January 2019 for alleged “illicit foreign exchange operations,” while state oil company PdVSA has been hit by successive rounds of sanctions since 2017.
According to Venezuelan telecommunications watchdog CONATEL, DirecTV is the largest subscription television provider in Venezuela.
The service cutoff will reportedly impact around two million households as well as the company’s 600 local employees. The firm, which had been operating in Venezuela for 24 years, held a 45% share of the local market and offered 300 channels.
DirecTV workers have denounced that they were notified of the company’s decision via email and that severance payments would be deposited in their bank accounts.
Several US-based companies have terminated their Venezuela operations out of fear of violating US sanctions.
The Venezuelan government has begun seizing AT&T’s assets after the firm decided to abandon the country to reduce exposure to US sanctions.
A judgement of the Supreme Court Constitutional Chamber ordered the body to re-establish the cable TV service immediately, as well as “protect workers’ rights.
As part of the ruling, CONATEL was authorized to take control of the Texas-based firm’s “property and goods, commercial offices, administrative headquarters, operational and transmission centers, antennas and any other equipment or installations.”
In addition, the Supreme Court imposed a travel ban on the former directors of AT&T’s subsidiary in Venezuela, DirecTV, as well as the freezing of all personal assets.
Banking regulators SUDEBAN were also instructed to halt all customer payments processed since the service was interrupted.
The issue has dominated headlines as millions spend their eleventh week indoors as part of the COVID-19 lock down.
On Sunday, 111 new cases were identified, 93 of which were reportedly related to migrants returning from Colombia or Brazil. As a result, the government has unveiled plans to “strengthen” quarantine camps on the country’s borders.
Vice President Delcy Rodriguez informed that the government is “evaluating” an easing of the lock down, with hardware stores, dentists and some banks highlighted for potential reopening.
Venezuela Analysis / ABC Flash Point News 2020.