Why Newsmax was dropped by DirecTV

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At 11:59 ET on January 24, Newsmax was no longer aired on DirecTV after an argument over a new deal went unresolved. The two sides have offered competing stories as to why the news channel was dropped.

DirecTV said it would have liked to continue offering the channel, but that Newsmax was demanding a fee — as other major news outlets do — to supplement advertising revenue. The channel and a group of GOP congressmen have claimed that the channel was “de-platformed” because it was a conservative outlet.

“On multiple occasions, we made it clear to Newsmax that we wanted to continue offering the network,” a DirecTV spokesperson said in a statement to news outlets. “But ultimately, 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.”

The company added that Newsmax would continue to be accessible for free on its website, YouTube and streaming platforms. It expects to replace the channel’s lock now that its contract with Newsmax has expired.

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Signage for the conservative television broadcast network Newsmax is displayed in a TV booth at the annual meeting of the National Rifle Association (NRA) at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas on May 28, 2022. The news channel has appealed to Trump -supporting conservatives dissatisfied with the coverage of other right-wing networks.
PATRICK T. FALLON/TSTIME via Getty Images

Cable companies are generally required to pay a transport fee to established networks. While compensation is worked out in individual deals between the company and the network, it usually depends on how valuable the network is in attracting subscribers. According to The everyday beastunder the agreement between Newsmax and DirecTV, the cable provider paid no transportation fee, but Newsmax also did not pay a license fee—which is usually waived for fledgling networks—to be hosted on cable.

“We are delivering Newsmax today to our national base of satellite and IPTV customers at no cost to the programmer or our customers, ultimately giving Newsmax the ability to generate significant advertising revenue for free,” stated a DirecTV quoted earlier.

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Newsmax’s average primetime viewing figures have fluctuated between about 130,000 and 230,000 overnight viewers over the past six months, according to USTVDB figures, peaking at 277,000 for the week ending Nov. 20, 2022.

After that, ratings fell sharply to 123,000 and had not recovered by January. The last recorded primetime slot, on January 22, attracted 113,000 viewers.

Newsmax — which appealed to Trump-supporting conservatives dissatisfied with other right-wing networks’ coverage — has taken to fighting: On Tuesday, hours before the feed was shut down, it published an article claiming that DirecTV had lied about Newsmax who for a transport fee while retaining his free streams.

“That’s just wrong. DirecTV knows that no operator pays a fee while Newsmax streams for free,” Christopher Ruddy, CEO of Newsmax Media, said in the piece.

The article said it was the second time DirecTV had “de-platformed” a conservative news channel in the past year, after dropping the One America News Network in 2022.

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The platform issue has also been taken up by Texas Republican Representative Wesley Hunt, who sent a letter on Jan. 20 to the CEOs of DirecTV, majority owner AT&T and minority owner TPG Capital — co-signed by 41 other GOP representatives, including James Comer, Matt Gaetz and Lauren Boebert protesting the decision.

DirecTV sign
DirecTV signage seen during Super Saturday Night 2019 on Atlantic Station on February 2, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. The cable provider is accused of “de-platforming” conservative news channels.
Getty Images for DIRECTV/Dimitrios Kambouris

Lawmakers accused DirecTV of “actively working to limit conservative views on its system,” which “stifles political discourse and cripples our ability to connect with our constituents.”

Hunt claimed that elected Democrats had worked with corporations to narrow down views they consider misinformation, which could be seen as an infringement of First Amendment rights. He asked the cable provider to respond to their concerns with rating data.

DirecTV told the Washington examinerthat first obtained and published the letter, that it had responded to the letter and was working to comply with the requests.

It remains to be seen whether Newsmax’s axion is the result of declining ratings in the face of wider adoption of streaming, or an attempt to limit the conservative outlet’s reach. What we do know is that, despite a petition to bring Newsmax back, the channel won’t be on air for a while.

News week has contacted DirecTV and Newsmax for comment.

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