Top Venezuela court orders seizure of AT&T subsidiary assets

Caracas (AFP) –


Venezuela's top court on Friday ordered the seizure of the assets and equipment belonging to a TV provider owned by AT&T after it ceased operations due to US sanctions.

The Supreme Court ordered the National Telecommunications Commission (CONATEL) to "take possession of all property and real estate possessions, business offices, administrative headquarters, operational and transmission centers, antennas and any other equipment or installation used to provide the subscription service" of DirecTV.

The court said the armed forces would help secure the assets.

The board of directors at the company that provides the DirecTV service in Venezuela, Galaxy Entertainment, have been barred from leaving the country.

The court instructed CONATEL to appoint a new board of directors in order to "guarantee the immediate re-establishment of services (and) the labor rights of all the employees."

The move comes a day after Texas-based AT&T announced it was ending DirecTV operations in Venezuela.

AT&T explained that US sanctions banned the transmission of the private television news network Globovision and PDVSA TV, the channel of the Venezuelan state oil company.

The company said that the transmission of both channels was a condition imposed by the government of President Nicolas Maduro in order to grant a pay TV licence in Venezuela.

Maduro, many of his top government allies and PDVSA are all subject to US sanctions.

According to official figures, DirecTV accounted for 45 percent of the subscription TV market in Venezuela.