AT&T shuts down DirecTV subscription business in Venezuela

AT&T said on Tuesday it was shutting its DirecTV subscription access to Venezuela due to U.S. sanctions.
AT&T campaignDirecTV was the country’s most popular television service, providing a range of foreign channels as alternatives to the country’s beleaguered local television industry that has been battered by a hyperinflationary economic crisis.

U.S. sanctions meant to force President Nicolas Maduro from office prohibit companies from contracting with state agencies, but local Venezuelan laws require subscription services to carry channels run by the government.

“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,” the company said in a statement.

Some users reported seeing their screens go blank, while others said they continued to receive foreign channels but no local ones. It was not immediately evident how long it would take for the closure to take effect.

DirecTV has been a mainstay of poor neighborhoods in Venezuela, where the company’s antennas were often visible on the zinc roofs of low-income cinder-block houses.