AT&T abruptly dumps second conservative news station in one year; Trump, GOP lawmakers sound off

At the stroke of midnight on Tuesday, more than 13 million customers of AT&T’s DirecTV, DirecTV Stream, and U-Verse were no longer able to tune into Newsmax, marking the second time in a year that AT&T has canceled a conservative news channel.

It’s a move former President Donald Trump called “disgusting” on Truth Social.

“This disgusting move comes after ‘de-platforming’ OAN last year,” Trump seethed.

“The Radical Left seems to have taken over the mind and soul of AT&T,” he continued. “This is a big blow to the Republican Party, and to America itself.”

Trump stated he’s done with both AT&T and DirecTV.

“For DIRECTV to drop very popular NEWSMAX without explanation, will not be accepted,” he said. “I, for one, will be dropping all association with AT&T and DIRECTV, and I have plenty. This is just one of many reasons why we must WIN IN 2024!!!”

Reports Newsmax:

Despite Newsmax being the 4th highest-rated cable news channel in the nation, a top 20 cable news channel overall, and watched by 25 million Americans on cable alone, according to Nielsen, DirecTV said it was taking the step as a “cost-cutting” measure and would never pay Newsmax a cable license fee.

DirecTV pays cable license fees to all top 75 cable channels and to all 22 liberal news and information channels it carries. Almost all of these channels are paid hefty license fees significantly more than Newsmax was seeking — and despite the fact that most of the channels have much lower ratings than Newsmax.

 

DirecTV has a different take on the dispute.

In a statement obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, a spokesperson for the service said, “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.”

“Anyone, including our customers, can watch the network for free via NewsmaxTV.com, YouTube.com and on multiple streaming platforms like Amazon Fire TV, Roku and Google Play,” the statement continues. “We continually evaluate the most relevant programming to provide our customers and expect to fill this available channel with new content.”

But, according to Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy, the decision to pull Newsmax comes down to “censorship.”

“This is a blatant act of political discrimination and censorship against Newsmax,” Ruddy fumed. “The most extreme liberal channels, even with tiny ratings, get fees from AT&T’s DirecTV, but Newsmax and OAN need to be deplatformed.”

In response to news of AT&T DirecTV’s decision, “41 Republican congressmen led by Rep. Wesley Hunt, R-Texas, sent a letter to the CEOs of AT&T, DirecTV, and hedge fund TPG Capital, the minority operator of the satellite system, warning of hearings,” Newsmax reports.

“The actions of AT&T and DIRECTV are of particular concern,” Hunt wrote. “On February 22, 2021, Democratic members of the Energy and Commerce Committee wrote to AT&T and DIRECTV encouraging the censorship of conservative television networks One America News Network (OANN), Fox News, and NEWSMAX. Given the jurisdiction of the Energy and Commerce Committee over your companies’ business interests, it is reasonable to assume you took this letter seriously and complied with those demands. Indeed, less than one year later, on January 14, 2022, AT&T and DIRECTV notified OANN that you would no longer carry its programming, a separation that became final on April 5, 2022.”

With the move to cancel Newsmax, Hunt says the members of Congress who signed on to the Jan. 20, 2023, letter “believe that DIRECTV, one of the nation’s largest Multichannel Video Programming Distributors, is actively working to limit conservative viewpoints on its system.”

“If Newsmax is removed from DirecTV, in less than a year House Republicans will have lost two of the three cable news channels that reach conservative voters on a platform that primarily serves conservative-leaning areas of the country,” Hunt wrote.

Appearing on Newsmax’s “Wake Up America,” Rep. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.) said of Hunt’s letter, “we have a number of questions in that letter that we’ll demand answers for.”

“You know, it could go so far as to have their executives come to talk to us, but, and explain this to us in terms of the — both the timing and the intent,” Waltz stated. “It could go as far as having public hearings.”

“But I think the public hearings should be part of this broader effort and, you know, from the Left to essentially snap everybody in line with their view, their way of thinking,” he added. “Or you can’t get access to anything you need to actually function as a company or a business.”

“That pesky First Amendment,” quipped host Rob Finnerty. “You know, I think it was George Orwell who warned us about all this, Congressman — in 1984.”

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