Under siege from Republicans and conservatives, DirecTV on Sunday said it was still interested in bringing back right-wing news channel Newsmax.
DirecTV dropped Newsmax prompting concerns among some lawmakers about censorship and conservative views being stifled.
The satellite company seemed to be extending an olive branch on its website, where it made a statement concerning Newsmax. AT&T-owned DirecTV remained adamant that it will not pay the license fee that Newsmax is demanding, though.
“DirecTV aims to deliver the best, widest range of news, sports, and entertainment programming at a fair price. We regularly engage in negotiations with content providers and work hard to protect our customers from unfair price inflation,” the statement said.
“Our differences with Newsmax are economic, not political or ideological. Newsmax made unreasonable demands that would force DirecTV customers to fund the network’s shift from a free nationwide streaming service to one that will require a pay TV subscription. Since we would not agree to Newsmax’s demand to pay them tens of millions of dollars in licensing fees, DirecTV was no longer permitted by Newsmax to air its content," DirecTV said. “DirecTV is disappointed by Newsmax’s position. We prefer Newsmax had never left and remain interested in bringing Newsmax back under the right financial terms.”
Newsmax did take too kindly to DirecTV's latest approach
“Newsmax is seeking a very modest fee of about $1 a cable subscriber when we believe our market rate is $5, and it’s a key reason why hundreds of cable operators renewed with us last year," the network said in a statement. "This is blatant political discrimination because DirecTV pays dozens of liberal- leaning networks fees higher than what we are asking and they typically have much lower ratings than Newsmax, which is the 4th highest-rated cable news channel.”
Before dropping Newmax, DirecTV noted that it was among the first distributors to carry Newsmax and said its decision to no longer carry the channel was an economic one and not a ideological one.
Shortly after Newsmax was dropped, DirecTV added The First, which it called a conservative-appeal commentary channel.
“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 at the time. "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 last year dropped another conservative channel, Herring Networks-owned One America News, so the Newsmax decision was particularly alarming to Republican lawmakers who now control the House of Representatives.
Last week a group of Republican Senators wrote to DirecTV expressing their concerns and demanding anxwers.
Eariler, more than 40 members of the House had sent a letter to the company questioning why it was considering dropping Newsmax. ■
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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.