In what may be a fatal blow to the right-wing propaganda channel, satellite service DirectTV plans to drop OANN.
DirecTV plans to drop far-right cable network One America News Network later this year, dealing a crippling blow to the otherwise low-rated network.
According to Bloomberg, who first reported the news, OANN’s contract with DirecTV expires in April. “We informed Herring Networks that, following a routine internal review, we do not plan to enter into a new contract when our current agreement expires,” DirecTV said in a statement.
OANN — which broadcasts conspiracy theories about COVID-19 and the 2020 election to its conservative audience — was even the idea of AT&T executives, who, per testimony reviewed by Reuters, asked now-CEO Robert Herring Sr. to make a conservative network to compete with Fox News in 2013. The executives, he testified, thought there were too many liberal channels. (Thanks to an acquisition of WarnerMedia in 2018, AT&T owns CNN.)
Per Reuters, AT&T has contributed “tens of missions of dollars in revenue” to the network, which has faced lawsuits for its coverage of the 2020 election. In fact, the report shows, 90% of OANN’s revenue comes from a contract with television platforms AT&T owns, including DirecTV.
In one piece of testimony the outlet reviewed, Herring said he was offered $250 million for OANN in 2019. The value of the network “would be zero” without the DirecTV deal, he said.
Womp, womp. Now if we could get rid of Fox so easily. Here’s more from Bloomberg on what we hope will be the network’s demise:
OAN depends heavily on DirecTV, its largest distributor, to reach its audience. The channel is still carried on Verizon FiOS and smaller pay-TV providers, according to its website. The broadcast can also be streamed via an online-TV service called KlowdTV. OAN has never been carried by Comcast Corp., Charter Communications Inc. or Dish Network Corp., three other major providers.
DirecTV, which is owned by AT&T Inc. and TPG via a joint venture, has offered OAN to customers since April 2017 after Herring Networks won a lawsuit that forced the satellite-TV provider to carry the channels.
OAN became one of Trump’s favorite channels while he was president. In 2020, he gave OAN a boost by tweeting one of its stories that maligned an elderly protester who was knocked down and injured by police on TV during a protest in Buffalo.
Critics have called on TV distributors to stop carrying the network. In a November blog post, John Bergmayer, legal director at the advocacy group Public Knowledge, said that “OAN’s support for the ‘Big Lie’ that the 2020 election was stolen and the fact that it’s consistently giving airtime to conspiracy theories and misinformation on COVID-19, moves it from a participant in the marketplace of ideas to a peddler of toxic lies.”
Pay-TV providers like DirecTV have been dropping channels to lower their programming costs at a time when consumers are increasingly replacing traditional TV with lower cost streaming services.