DirecTV Executives Arrested in Venezuela Following AT&T Pullout

Three Venezuelan nationals working as sales executives for DirecTV have been arrested by Venezuelan authorities, three weeks after AT&T abruptly pulled its satellite TV business out of the country.

Under terms of a license obtained by Dallas-based AT&T from President Nicolas Maduro’s government, DirecTV is required to carry private news network Globovision and state oil-company-backed network PDVSA TV.

AT&T, however, said U.S. sanctions against Venezuela ban transmission of those two networks.

"I hope there is justice in this country," said Carlos Villamizar, VP of strategy for DirecTV, said in a statement made through his lawyer before surrendering himself.

Villamizar added that he was "very, very surprised," at the warrant issued against him and his former colleagues Hector Rivero and Rodolfo Carrano.

Villamizar’s lawyer said the three executives "did not participate in what happened, they did not know what was happening."

Al Jazeera is among a number of global news outlets to report on this.

Three days after AT&T's May 19 decision to immediately close operations, Venezuela's highest court ordered the seizure of the company's facilities and equipment.

DirectTV's abrupt exit has left two million Venezuelan pay TV subscribers deprived of the popular Futbol Total programme, which was broadcast by DirecTV Sports for Latin America.

The Trump Administration here in the U.S. is currently trying to oust socialist Maduro through what it calls its “maximum-pressure” political campaign.

AT&T joined other U.S. companies, including General Motors, Kellogg and Kimberly-Clark, that have abandoned Venezuela because of what they say are shrinking sales, government threats and the risk of U.S. sanctions. 

Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!