Newsmax returns to DirecTV after nasty dispute, censorship claims
DirecTV’s dispute with conservative network Newsmax — which turned bitter when the small channel enlisted support from Republican politicians — is ending with Newsmax returning to programming lineups of satellite TV customers.
The two companies announced a truce Wednesday after reaching a new distribution agreement that will restore Newsmax to DirecTV customer homes this week.
El Segundo-based DirecTV has long maintained that dropping Newsmax in late January was strictly a business decision, coming only after the controversial Boca Raton, Fla., channel failed in its attempts to play hardball during carriage negotiations.
But Newsmax protested its removal from DirecTV, claiming censorship based on its politics. On air and online, Newsmax complained — without evidence — that DirecTV’s actions were driven by a disdain for conservatives.
Although the channel’s viewership is low, Newsmax has Republican friends in high places.
Members of Congress, who enjoy appearing on the channel that has become a cheerleader for right-wing causes, called for investigative hearings into DirecTV’s action. Former President Trump — whose rallies provide Newsmax with its highest ratings — called the move “disgusting” and urged people to cancel their subscriptions to DirecTV and AT&T’s mobile network. AT&T is part-owner of DirecTV.
But this week, Newsmax’s chief heaped praise on DirecTV.
“Newsmax recognizes and appreciates that DirecTV clearly supports diverse voices, including conservative ones,” Christopher Ruddy, Newsmax chief executive, said in the statement. “DirecTV helped give Newsmax its start nearly a decade ago as it continues to do with upcoming news networks, which is why we are pleased to reach a mutually beneficial agreement.”
Newsmax is off DirecTV, blaming liberal pressure. The satellite TV company says the move is to keep customer bills low in the face of cord-cutting.
Newsmax will return to the traditional satellite TV platform as well as to U-verse and the digital DirecTV Stream service.
Other terms of the distribution deal were not disclosed.
DirecTV executives had bristled over Newsmax’s censorship claims, noting the previous agreement expired in January, and DirecTV lacked legal authorization to continue to broadcast the channel.
DirecTV executives felt they were being unfairly besmirched for trying to hold a line on costs for the company’s 13 million subscribers at a time when traditional pay-TV distributors are struggling to retain customers in the streaming era.
DirecTV had offered Newsmax to its subscribers since the channel’s launch in 2014, but it did not pay a fee to Newsmax as the distributor does for other, more established networks, including Fox News.
Before negotiations derailed in January, DirecTV had said it was willing to keep Newsmax in its programming lineup at the same terms — without any compensation. DirecTV argued Newsmax programming was widely available for free as a streaming app and on a free ad-supporting streaming TV channel carried by Roku, Pluto TV and other platforms.
But Newsmax wanted DirecTV to pay it about $1 per subscriber home per month.
A DirecTV spokesman said the channel will be offered at “no additional cost to our customers.”
Newsmax will join five other news channels offered by DirecTV: CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, NewsNation and the First (which was added after Newsmax was removed from the lineups).
“This resolution with Newsmax, resolving an all-too-common carriage dispute, underscores our dedication to delivering a wide array of programming and perspectives to our customers,” DirecTV CEO Bill Morrow said in the joint statement.
“Through our persistent negotiations, we reached a resolution under mutually-agreeable business terms allowing us to deliver the conservative news network at the right value — a reflection of the free market at work,” Morrow said.
Newsmax, along with San Diego-based One America News and Fox News, is facing defamation claims by vote-counting machine maker Dominion Voting Systems over allegations it promoted false claims that the 2020 election was fraudulent. Newsmax has said that it “simply reported on allegations made by well-known public figures, including the President, his advisors and members of Congress.”
Staff writer Stephen Battaglio contributed to this report.
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