DirecTV Officially Dumps Pro-Trump Channel Newsmax

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Negotiations between DirecTV and conservative cable channel Newsmax stalled on Tuesday, prompting the pay-TV provider to remove the pro-Trump network from its lineup.

On the surface, this should have been a typical cable package negotiation in an era of cable cuts, shrinking subscription numbers, and diminishing television revenues. Instead, it looks like it’s going to be another salvo in the ongoing culture wars and partisan grievances that fuel American politics and cable news.

“On multiple occasions, we made it clear to Newsmax that we wanted to continue offering the network, but eventually Newsmax’s demands for rate increases would have resulted in significantly higher costs that we would have to pass on to our broad customer base,” a DirecTV spokesperson told The Daily Beast shortly after midnight on Wednesday.

“Everyone, including our customers, can watch the network for free on NewsmaxTV.com, YouTube.com, and on multiple streaming platforms such as Amazon Fire TV, Roku, and Google Play. We are constantly evaluating the most relevant programming to offer our customers and expect to fill this available channel with new content.”

Just before DirecTV dumped the network, Newsmax published a preemptive article bashing the provider about the likely “deplatforming.” Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy also accused DirecTV of lying to media outlets about the network demanding transportation fees for its free-streamed content.

“That is simply incorrect. DirecTV knows that no operator pays a fee while Newsmax streams for free,” Ruddy said.

DirecTV, a distributor of multi-channel video programming that currently has 13.5 million subscribers, is deadlocked with Newsmax over the channel’s desire to receive transportation costs in a new deal. The current contract between the two companies expires at midnight on Wednesday.

The loss of DirecTV will take a big chunk out of Newsmax’s current cable footprint, which currently serves about 50 million homes. (The network claims it’s available in an additional 50 million homes across over-the-top and digital platforms.)

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Under their current arrangement, Newsmax has not received any licensing fees to broadcast its programming on DirecTV’s service. This is a typical deal between pay TV providers and up-and-coming broadcasters trying to expand their audience. At the same time, DirecTV has carried Newsmax since the channel’s launch in 2014, and the network has not received any carrier charges during his tenure. (However, in the recent renewals with Verizon, Dish Network, and NCTC, Newsmax now receives such fees.)

While Newsmax barely made a wave in its first few years of existence, it saw its viewership surge in late 2020 following TSTIME News’ early (and accurate) Arizona election night call for President Joe Biden. Making a blatant appeal to MAGA viewers dissatisfied that TSTIME had seemingly abandoned Donald Trump, the channel plunged headlong into election denial and pro-Trump propaganda and was rewarded with a surge in viewership.

While the channel’s ratings have crumbled since that brief peak, Newsmax still draws far more viewers than it did before 2020 and remains fourth among cable news channels, behind TSTIME News, TSTIME, and MSNBC.

At the same time, the right-wing channel draws only a fraction of its rivals’ audiences, even though TSTIME and MSNBC have seen their own ratings decline in the post-Trump era. In the fourth quarter of 2022, Newsmax averaged 113,000 total viewers and 170,000 in prime time, and its programming includes a large number of TSTIME News and Trumpworld castoffs.

During the negotiations, DirecTV made it clear that while it would offer Newsmax programming to its customers under the current arrangement, the network’s demand for additional fees was a bridge too far.

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“We are delivering Newsmax today to our national base of satellite and IPTV customers at no cost to the programmer or our customers, ultimately providing Newsmax with the ability to generate significant ad revenue for free,” a DirecTV spokesperson said in an earlier statement. . “We have discussed with Newsmax several times that we want to offer their programming, but the network is now charging significant fees that we would have to pass on to our broad customer base. In addition, the same programming offered by Newsmax today is already available for free to 100% of U.S. households, including our customers through NewsmaxTV.com, YouTube.com, and on multiple streaming platforms such as Amazon Fire TV, Roku, and Google Play.”

In recent years, DirecTV, like most other pay TV providers, has seen its subscriber base shrink as more customers turn to streaming services and other OTT options. In addition to losing tens of millions of subscriptions, the company recently cut hundreds of jobs.

As DirecTV remains determined not to offer Newsmax any compensation, the network has claimed that the carrier’s position is ideologically based. “While we cannot comment on the negotiations, we expect DirecTV and its majority shareholder AT&T to treat Newsmax on a fair and equitable basis with respect to all channels it offers, especially after both companies removed OAN from their platform last year. achieved,” the statement said. network said in a statement Monday evening.

An industry source close to Newsmax claimed that every other top 75 cable channel DirecTV providers (including “liberal” news outlets) receive fees from the provider. This source claimed that Newsmax will end its free live stream in the coming months, satisfying DirecTV’s demand that the cable outlet not offer its content for free elsewhere.

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During this contract battle with DirecTV, Newsmax has turned to House Republicans to put pressure on the cable TV giant. Linking the provider’s tough stance with Newsmax to its decision last year to drop the little-watched conspiracy network One America News, GOP lawmakers have accused DirecTV of “actively working to limit conservative views on its system.” while extending to less watched left-wing channels (specifically referring to Vice TV).

Rep. Wesley Hunt (R-TX), who was a frequent guest on Newsmax, wrote a letter to DirecTV that was co-signed by 41 of his Republican colleagues. Hunt alleged that DirecTV colluded with Democrats to “de-monetize” right-wing outlets, claiming that the carrier “moved to Newsmax’s platform by refusing cable money on a fair and equitable basis.”

Hunt suggested that Republicans try to investigate DirecTV for gagging conservatives, and demanded that the pay-TV provider provide Congress with ratings and “corresponding fees paid by your company” for Newsmax and similar channels.

“If Newsmax is removed from DIRECTV, in less than a year Republicans in the House will have lost two of the three cable news channels reaching conservative voters on a platform that primarily serves conservative-leaning parts of the country,” the letter added.

Responding to Hunt, DirecTV reiterated that it had no problem keeping Newsmax under the current deal, noting that it allows the conservative channel to sell national ads. In addition, DirecTV noted that it provides Newsmax with an additional two minutes of national advertising slots per hour that would otherwise be reserved for local sponsors.

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