FILE PHOTO: Satellite tv antennas are seen in the low-income neighbourhood Catia after AT&T Inc said on Tuesday it has closed its DirecTV Latin America operations in Venezuela, in Caracas, Venezuela May 19, 2020. REUTERS/Manaure Quintero

CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuela’s Supreme Court on Friday ordered pay television service DirecTV to restore services in the South American country, after owner AT&T Inc said earlier this week it was shutting access due to U.S. sanctions.

DirecTV 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.

In a statement, the high court also ordered the national telecoms regulator, with support from the armed forces, to “take immediate possession of all the properties and assets” belonging to the company that were necessary to provide its pay television services.

AT&T did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Reporting by Caracas newsroom; Writing by Luc Cohen; Editing by Marguerita Choy

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