After raising Republican ire by dropping right-wing news channel Newsmax, DirecTV announced that it is adding The First, described as a conservative-appeal commentary channel, to its DirecTV, DirecTV Stream and U-verse TV services.
DirecTV said it has made a multiyear commitment to carry the channel, which will be provided free to subscribers. DirecTV maintains that Newsmax is no longer being carried because it wanted a carriage fee after previously not charging one.
“DirecTV values different viewpoints and perspectives and will always work to preserve expansive choice among a wide variety of entertainment and information services to appeal to the unique tastes and interests of our diverse customer base,” Rob Thun, chief content officer at DirecTV, said. “As we’ve successfully done with other emerging channels, we look forward to helping The First continue to expand its audience reach, while constantly ensuring that our customers receive a strong value.”
The First initially launched via streaming on Paramount’s Pluto TV in October 2019. Its lineup features daily programs including The Dana Show with Dana Loesch; The Liz Wheeler Show, No Spin News with Bill O’Reilly and I’m Right with Jesse Kelly.
“DirecTV clearly recognizes the importance of offering a wide array of views and perspectives to their customers across the U.S., and we’re thrilled The First is now among them since we reach conservatives who aren’t beholden to any one party’s talking points,” First TV CEO Christopher Balfe said. “We give rise to voices who are passionate about American values yet too often ignored, and now have a unique opportunity to broaden our reach without saddling DirecTV and its customers with any added financial demands.”
The decision to drop Newsmax, after cutting One America News Network last year, raised concerns among Republican lawmakers that conservative voices were being stifled.
Newsmax contended that DirecTV was engaged in discrimination and censorship.
“While we are glad AT&T DirecTV is adding a conservative commentary channel, it is a pathetic attempt to deal with millions of angry viewers who still want Newsmax for our top-rated shows, personalities, and in-depth news coverage," Newsmax said in a statement. "The facts remain: DirecTV dropped two of the most popular conservative channels in the past year, replaced them with a channel with no rating, and they still carry more than 20 liberal-leaning news channels.”
DirecTV said adding The First was also part of its strategic plan to integrate more streaming programming into its offering.
The new high-definition service will join the DirecTV satellite lineup on channel 349 and U-verse TV on channel 1220. ■
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Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.