LOS ANGELES (CN) – A Superior Court judge Wednesday denied DirecTV’s motion to keep its lawsuit against Al Jazeera America under seal, saying the public has a “huge right” to know what the case is about.
Judge Elizabeth Allen White denied the motion without prejudice, so DirecTV may refile the motion with more supporting documents. It filed a heavily redacted breach of contract complaint against Al Jazeera in July.
“There is a huge, huge right for the public to be aware of what’s going on in the litigation,” White told attorneys at a morning hearing at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse in downtown Los Angeles.
From the little that can be gleaned from the satellite TV provider’s lawsuit, the dispute is about a 9-year-old affiliation agreement between DirecTV and Al Gore’s Current TV.
Ongoing proceedings in the Delaware Chancery Court provide some clues .
In August, Current co-founders Gore and Democratic politician and businessman Joel Hyatt sued Al Jazeera for $65 million, claiming that the news network had kept millions in escrow after it acquired Current in 2013.
Al Jazeera filed a counterclaim in September, claiming it is keeping the money in reserve to defend against claims that arose after the sale. That includes the dispute with DirecTV in Los Angeles.
Calling Gore’s and Hyatt’s lawsuit a “sham,” the news network argued in its Delaware filing that Current had failed to comply with distribution agreements.
Al Jazeera took Current’s place on DirecTV’s channel lineup after the $500 million acquisition.
In denying DirecTV’s motion, Judge White noted that some of the information at issue had already been made public in Delaware.
“You have to have a very, very high showing that there is a likelihood that something will be revealed that could cause irreparable harm to the party,” White said. “And I don’t have that here,”
Though DirecTV filed the motion to keep the complaint under seal, Al Jazeera attorney Jeffery Rosenfeld, with DLA Piper, said the news channel also wants to keep “sensitive” financial information confidential.
“What’s in the file is a complaint that’s been practically completely blacked out,” Judge White said. “I looked at it and I thought, ‘Nobody knows anything at this point. You’ll have to go to Delaware to find out.'”
Kirkland and Ellis attorneys Robyn Bladow and Alexander Bastian appeared in court to represent DirecTV.
Attorneys on both sides declined to comment.
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