By Karen Freifeld
NEW YORK, Jan 17 (Reuters) - A New York judge has dismissed
claims against DirecTV Latin America for ending the distribution
of programming by broadcaster RCTV under pressure from the
"The court cannot force DTV to act as RCTV's champion in its
feud with the government of Venezuela," Justice Shirley
Kornreich wrote in her decision, filed on Wednesday in New York
state Supreme Court in Manhattan.
The case stems from a move by Venezuela revoking RCTV's
license in May 2007, saying the channel was opposed to President
Hugo Chavez. The action against RCTV, Venezuela's oldest
broadcaster, was condemned internationally.
RCTV then entered into a five-year agreement with DirecTV
Latin America in July 2007 to distribute its signal to
subscribers in Venezuela.
According to court papers, CONATEL, a Venezuelan regulatory
agency, published new broadcasting regulations in December 2009
and on Jan. 20, 2010, the agency told RCTV it would be
classified as a national channel under the regulations and be
required to carry certain broadcasts.
On Jan. 22, 2010, DirecTV told RCTV that CONATEL informed
them the broadcaster had failed to carry a mandatory government
message, court papers say.
On Jan. 24, 2010, DirecTV removed RCTV's signal from its
subscription package in Latin America, according to the papers.
RCTV claims DirecTV acted without a Venezuela government
order to take them off the air. However, even if that were the
case, the judge cited an agreement showing DirecTV was allowed
to suspend distribution if it "could be politically inadvisable
or could be found ... to violate the law."
The ruling granted DirecTV's motion to dismiss RCTV's
counterclaims in a case DirecTV brought seeking a declaration
that its actions in terminating its agreement with RCTV were
justified. The case continues.
Representatives of RCTV and DirecTV did not immediately
return calls for comment.
DirecTV Latin America is a subsidiary of DirecTV, a provider
of digital television service.
The case is DirecTV Latin America, LLC v RCTV International
Corp., 651824/2011, New York state Supreme Court, New York
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