DirecTV has now minimized Newsmax, dropping the right-wing channel from its satellite and streaming services, citing Newsmax’s demands for higher carriage fees as cause to dump it.
“On multiple occasions, we made it clear to Newsmax that we wanted to continue to offer the network, but ultimately Newsmax’s demands for rate increases would have led to significantly higher costs that we would have to pass on to our broad customer base,” DirecTV says.
The Daily Beat’s Justin Baragona and Diana Falzone reported Tuesday(Opens in a new window) that Newsmax’s exit was imminent, citing a DirecTV spokesman who said Newsmax had for years deferred those carriage fees after it picked up the channel in 2014.
A story on Newsmax’s home page(Opens in a new window) instead suggests that DirecTV is engaging in censorship at the behest of minority owner AT&T’s liberal corporate overlords.
“This is a blatant act of political discrimination and censorship against Newsmax,” it quotes Christopher Ruddy, CEO of the West Palm Beach, Fla.-based channel. “The most extreme liberal channels, even with tiny ratings, get fees from AT&T’s DirecTV, but Newsmax and OAN need to be deplatformed.”
OAN is One America News Network, the hoax-soaked, far-right channel that DirecTV dropped last spring after years of granting that channel a curiously generous deal(Opens in a new window). Verizon, the only other provider of any size to carry OAN, dumped it in July.
Newsmax is no OAN in terms of outright worship of President Trump, but Newsmax has positioned itself as a further-right alternative to Fox News(Opens in a new window) that was more supportive of Trump—a loyalty Saturday Night Live mocked in a 2020 skit(Opens in a new window) about a “Sportsmax” channel that portrayed the then-winless New York Jets(Opens in a new window) as destined for the Super Bowl. Newsmax later gave extensive airtime to Trump’s lies about election fraud in the 2020 election, which it then walked back(Opens in a new window) after legal threats from voting-machine vendors Smartmatic and Dominion Voting Systems.
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The Newsmax story says the fee it sought represented “a 75% discount to its market value,” while “almost all 50 channels below Newsmax in ratings get higher fees.” It urges Newsmax viewers to call DirecTV and AT&T to complain, as well as their representatives in Congress.
AT&T now owns 70% of DirecTV but no longer manages it, having spun off the company and sold a 30% stake in 2021(Opens in a new window) to private-equity firm TPG. Among companies that suspended political donations to the 147 members of Congress who voted to overturn the election after the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, AT&T has since become one of the most generous donors to those politicians, according to a “corporate accountability index”(Opens in a new window) maintained by journalist Judd Legum.
DirecTV itself faces serious subscriber-retention problems after years of cord cutting. TV Answer Man writer Phillip Swann said in December that DirecTV lost more than 12 million subscribers(Opens in a new window) since AT&T’s disastrous 2015 acquisition of the company, citing an estimate by Fitch Ratings(Opens in a new window).
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