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Newsmax fights back after cancellation by AT&T Direct TV

by WorldTribune Staff, February 10, 2023

Newsmax, the nation's 4th highest-rated cable news channel, has the support of some heavy hitters in its fight against AT&T DirecTV after being removed from the satellite service and its 13 million subscriber homes.

Former President Donald Trump, Republican National Committee (RNC) chair Ronna McDaniel, and Harvard law professor Alan Dershowtiz have joined the fight against what they see as "political bias" in AT&T's removing Newsmax from DirecTV. The House Oversight Committee has said it will investigate.

"I think it's a disgrace," Trump said of AT&T's action during a radio interview with "The Todd Starnes Show" on Monday. "This was done for political reasons, and they're going to end up winning that," Trump added, predicting Newsmax would prevail against AT&T.

Trump praised Newsmax as "really a true conservative voice," adding, "What DirecTV — and that's AT&T — did, I think it's deplorable."

DirecTV has claimed both Newsmax and OAN were removed as "cost-cutting" measures at the same time the company reported profits last year of $2.7 billion.

DirecTV claimed Newsmax was demanding "excessive fees" that would cost them in the "tens of millions" of dollars.

Newsmax said it was seeking a fee of about $1 per cable subscriber per year, among the lowest fees asked for in cable, and that total amount of the deal was a fraction of "tens of millions."

"This was never about the fees being excessive," Christopher Ruddy, CEO of Newsmax, said. "DirecTV's position has always been that Newsmax of all cable news channels should never get any cable fee whatsoever, not one penny."

Newsmax pointed out that DirecTV continues to carry 22 left-leaning news channels, many with much lower ratings than Newsmax. And those channels get license fees.

Republican Rep. James Comer of Kentucky, the new chair of the House Oversight Committee, has vowed to begin an investigation and hold hearings on the matter soon.

Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Tom Cotton or Arkansas, and Mike Lee of Utah have sent a letters to the CEOs of AT&T, DirecTV, and TPG (the private equity firm that is the third party in this censorship move).

The letter 18 specific requests, including these two:

• All documents and communications between January 1, 2021 and the present, referring or relating to Newsmax, OANN, or Fox News, that are between or among any employee or contractor of DirecTV, AT&T, or TPG and any Democrat member of Congress or any individual affiliated with any Democrat member of Congress.

• All documents and communications between January 1, 2021 and the present referring or relating to Newsmax, OANN, or Fox News, that are between or among any employee or contractor of DirecTV, AT&T, or TPG and any individual affiliated with the Democratic National Committee, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, or Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Democrats in Congress have for years been pressing cable platforms to cancel Newsmax and OAN.

RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel on Feb. 8 sent an urgent email to Members of the Republican National Committee urging them to fight against AT&T DirecTV censorship of Newsmax: "I’m sure you’ve all seen the recent news that DirecTV has decided to drop Newsmax from its channel lineup. DirecTV has claimed that their decision was the result of a dispute over carrier fees, but this is yet another example of powerful corporations silencing conservative viewpoints. It’s anti-free-speech and anti-American. As DirecTV continues to pay full carrier fees for smaller left-wing networks while silencing the fourth-highest-rated news program on cable TV, it’s our job to fight back.

"The RNC has repeatedly stepped up to defend free speech and conservative values from left-wing censorship. In October 2022, we sued Google for suppressing our fundraising and get-out-the-vote emails. That case continues to develop and we look forward to holding Google accountable for its chilling attacks on conservative speech. When Twitter tried to silence the bombshell Hunter Biden laptop story in October 2020, we immediately filed a complaint with the FEC; following the release of the Twitter files in winter 2022, we sent a demand letter asking the FEC to re-examine our complaint in light of Twitter’s dishonesty.

"Our voters deserve to know that the RNC is standing with them and protecting their right to free expression as Big Tech oligarchs try to silence viewpoints they find politically inconvenient. As long as I am Chairwoman of this committee, that work will never stop. However, we are stronger when we fight together. I am hoping that you, as Republican leaders in your states, can help mobilize the grassroots to push back on politically motivated censorship of our principles. This effort needs to come from the grassroots up: if you can, please reach out to your local and county-level leaders to rally their communities. Whether it’s on Twitter, on Facebook, a letter to the editor, or calling DirecTV at 877-763-9762, we need to send a loud and clear signal that we will not accept this blatant bias.

"If Democrats and their media allies are so scared of our ideas, they should debate them in the open – not try to make them disappear. Join me in holding the left accountable."

Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz told Newsmax's Greta Van Susteren on Monday that DirecTV had "clearly used economic reasons as a cover for political reasons. The only two stations that they bumped are two [that are] relatively conservative: Newsmax has kind of centrist-conservative, and the other one that's much more hard-right conservative (OAN)."

Dershowitz said he believes AT&T's decision "had elements of partisan and ideological and political bias directed at stations that don't adhere to the views of the company. I think it's just wrong."

"I can't imagine one of my former students sitting there and saying, 'Oh, this is a good thing; well, let's just take Newsmax and deny them all these abilities and keep people from seeing them; that sounds like the marketplace of ideas' — no, it doesn't!" Dershowitz added.

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