Newsmax set to go dark as GOP lawmakers threaten to intervene in contract dispute with DIRECTV
Greg Kelly. (Newsmax screengrab)

Another conservative news network could face an existential threat.

DirecTV may be dropping the right-leaning Newsmax network, just as the cable television carrier did last year to the pro-Donald Trump channel One America News, according to a letter sent last week to House Republicans, reported The Daily Beast.

“If Newsmax is removed from DIRECTV, in less than a year House Republicans will have lost two of the three cable news channels that reach conservative voters on a platform that primarily serves conservative-leaning areas of the country,” read the letter, sent by first-term Rep. Wesley Hunt (R-TX), a regular guest on the network.

The letter, which was co-signed by 41 GOP lawmakers, accused the carrier and its corporate owners, AT&T and TPG Capital, of “moving to de-platform Newsmax by denying it cable fees on a fair and equitable basis,” and referenced comments from Democratic members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee that described Fox News, Newsmax, and OANN as "misinformation rumor mills and conspiracy theory hotbeds."

“Given the jurisdiction of the Energy and Commerce Committee over your companies’ business interests, it is reasonable to assume you took this letter seriously and complied with these demands,” the letter said.

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A DirecTV representative didn't dispute that Newsmax's deal with the carrier expires late Tuesday night, as Hunt claimed, but that person said the network was asking for fees the company doesn't think are warranted.

The representative told The Daily Beast the network's initial deal, when DirecTV became one of the first distributors to offer Newsmax in 2014, deferred carriage fees to allow it to reach a wider audience, with the expectation that advertisements would make up the difference, but it was now asking carriers for better terms after enjoying a brief ratings surge following the 2020 election.

Some smaller carriers, such as Atlantic Broadband, balked at the new terms and have dropped the network.

The DirecTV representative also pointed out that Newsmax was seeking license fees from carriers while making the same content available for free on YouTube and streaming services such as Amazon Fire TV and Roku.

Newsmax employees told The Daily Beast they didn't know much about the negotiations and were caught off guard by Hunt's claims about losing DirecTV, but the lawmaker indicated Republicans may get involved in the dispute.

"[It's] a political decision to censor conservative media, which is a red flag for the First Amendment," Hunt told the Washington Examiner. "The latest development in the Left’s ongoing campaign to purge voices they disagree with from the public sphere.”

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