DirecTV arms conservative Newsmax, which accuses ‘censorship’
DirecTV said it shut down conservative broadcaster Newsmax on Tuesday night after a dispute over so-called carriage fees – a move the station described as “censorship.”
In an emailed statement to CBS MoneyWatch, DirecTV said it is no longer airing Newsmax on the satellite service or its DirecTV Stream or U-Verse services. DirecTV said it “made it clear” to Newsmax that it wanted to continue broadcasting the network’s programming, but that its “demands for rate increases had resulted in significantly higher costs,” including for customers.
Newsmax described DirecTV’s decision as a “censorship move” to silence the conservative network. The media outlet also noted DirecTV’s decision a year earlier to drop another conservative network from its roster, One America News Network, or OAN.
“This is a flagrant act of political discrimination and censorship by Newsmax,” Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy said in an article published on the media company’s website on Wednesday.
Limiting “Conservative Viewpoints”?
In response to the dispute, 41 Republican lawmakers sent a letter to DirecTV warning they could open hearings on the issue, according to a copy of the letter seen by CBS MoneyWatch.
“Taken together, these two actions lead us to believe that DirecTV … is actively working to curtail conservative views on its system,” the letter said, referring to DirecTV’s move to drop Newsmax and OAN.
Contractual disputes over transmission fees — the money cable and satellite TV providers pay to broadcasters to carry their content — are common between broadcasters and carriers like DirecTV. Negotiations are often down to the last detail, sometimes resulting in airlines dropping a network from their lineup if the sides fail to reach an agreement. Channels are usually restored once a new contract of carriage has been made.
Republican lawmakers called the loss of OAN and Newsmax from DirecTV’s lineup a concern for conservative voters because DirecTV “serves primarily conservative-leaning areas of the country,” according to the letter from Rep. Wesley Hunt of Texas and other GOP congressmen who sent to DirecTV.
In its statement, DirecTV pointed out that Newsmax is free to watch on NewsmaxTV.com or YouTube, and that the network also uses services like Roku and Google Play.
DirecTV, a joint venture between AT&T and private equity firm TPG, has 13.3 million subscribers, according to Fitch Ratings. The satellite service has lost millions of customers over the past decade to competition from internet and streaming services.
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