Gigi Sohn: FCC Should Investigate OAN, Newsmax Deplatforming

FCC nominee Gigi Sohn
FCC nominee Gigi Sohn appears before the Senate Commerce Committee on Tuesday. (Image credit: ill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Federal Communications Commission nominee Gigi Sohn said she thinks the agency should investigate DirecTV's deplatforming of right-leaning cable news channels Newsmax and One America News Network (OANN).

That came in a back-and-forth with Senate Commerce Committee chair Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) Tuesday (February 14) during Sohn's third confirmation hearing before that committee.

Sohn said she did not know why conservative channels OANN and Newsmax were being deplatformed, pointing out that she had worked to help secure carriage of both.

Also: DirecTV Tells Newsmax to Stop Using Editorial Platform in Business Dispute

As head of Public Knowledge, Sohn advocated for carriage for independent programmers by the big distributors. She called OANN and Newsmax “real independent programmers” who got “knocked out” because someone else could bundle 15 channels.

Sohn said that sometimes the FCC was so busy working on broadband that important media-consolidation issues got pushed to the wayside.

She said the FCC should investigate the deplatforming and the related issues of bundling and most-favored-nation contract clauses.

Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), during his questioning, pointed out that OANN had just tweeted that it did not and would not support Sohn. 

“We have a long history of supporting independent programming and agree it is important for pay-TV services," said a DirecTV spokesperson. "We were the first pay TV operator to provide Newsmax with distribution and more recently were the first to add the conservative 24/7 news network, The First.” ■

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.