One America News has officially been removed from DirecTV, as the TV provider resisted pressure from Republicans to keep the right-wing network in its channel lineup. A DirecTV spokesperson confirmed to Ars today that the channel removal went ahead as scheduled.
OAN’s future is in doubt as the network’s owner has said losing the DirecTV deal might force it to shut down. DirecTV previously issued a notice to users stating that OAN would leave DirecTV’s satellite channel lineup and the online service DirecTV Stream after April 4. The removal also affected A Wealth of Entertainment (AWE), another channel owned by OAN parent company Herring Networks.
DirecTV announced it wouldn’t renew its carriage deal with OAN after pressure from advocacy groups that pointed out OAN “is a major supporter of the Stop the Steal movement,” spread “election fraud lies that claimed the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump, ” “stock[ed] violent calls for the attack on the US Capitol,” and airs “wall-to-wall COVID-19 disinformation.” US Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) and Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.) had also questioned DirecTV owner AT&T and other TV providers about why they carry OAN, Newsmax, and Fox News.
DirecTV has since expanded its deal with Fox by offering Fox Nation streaming as a premium add-on. When asked whether it will keep Newsmax, DirecTV told Ars, “As we do for every network in our lineup, we’ll evaluate and make decisions as we approach each contract’s expiration.” The DirecTV spokesperson also said, “I’m not at liberty to provide the expiration date of the contract [with Newsmax].”
OAN sued DirecTV and AT&T
Herring Networks sued DirecTV and majority owner AT&T on March 7, alleging breach of contract and other violations. One of OAN’s allegations is that AT&T and DirecTV violated a confidentiality provision in their contract by telling the press about the April 2022 expiration date.
OAN’s primary breach-of-contract claim is a long shot given that DirecTV didn’t end the carriage agreement early. The TV provider announced in January that “We informed [OAN owner] Herring Networks that, following a routine internal review, we do not plan to enter into a new contract when our current agreement expires” and then dropped the channel when the deal expired this week.
AT&T spun off DirecTV into a separate company last year but still owns 70 percent of it.
Herring’s lawsuit said that “OAN and AWE might be forced off the air because Herring will no longer be able to broadcast OAN and AWE via DirecTV and Herring presently has limited alternative carriage options.” OAN’s website says the network is still on Verizon FiOS, CenturyLink, and smaller providers. OAN also sells online subscriptions directly to consumers for $5 a month.
In a 2020 court case, an OAN accountant tested that the deal with AT&T and DirecTV provided 90 percent of Herring Networks’ income, according to Reuters. “Without the DirecTV deal, the accountant said under oath, the network’s value ‘would be zero,'” the article said.
Republican AGs pressured DirecTV to keep OAN
After DirecTV’s January announcement, OAN host Dan Ball urged viewers to dig up “dirt” on AT&T Board Chairman William Kennard and to “Call AT&T’s support line. Complain, raise hell, email, phone call daily, every hour, set the alarm on your phone, blow the phone lines up, demand they keep OAN—this is censorship at its best.”
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and five other Republican state attorneys general last month urged DirecTV to reverse its decision, claiming that “your failure to do so will not only cause you to lose millions of dollars in business, but also drive many millions of Americans to simply cancel your services outright, as President Trump and other leading figures have already called for.”
Another letter from West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey accused DirecTV of caving to Democratic members of Congress, referencing the letter from Eshoo and McNerney. “The last thing our country needs right now is corporate censorship of conservative voices at the behest of members of Congress and others seeking to cut off debate by limiting the reach of those that disagree with them,” Morrisey wrote.
US Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) also called on DirecTV to keep OAN, saying “the lack of transparency with the viewers of OAN in Montana in your decision-making process is unacceptable and has the appearance of targeting supporters of former President Donald Trump. “