GOP Senators Seek Info From DirecTV on Newsmax Drop

Newsmax booth at 2022 NRA convention in Houston
(Image credit: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP)

DirecTV is getting more pressure — this time from a group of Senate Republicans — over its decision to drop the conservative Newsmax network after a carriage agreement expired.

DirecTV had said dropping Newsmax was a business decision, but Newsmax accused it of political discrimination and censorship. That’s something congressional Republicans have their antennas up for on multiple fronts, most prominently with social media platforms but also traditional TV.

DirecTV is free to drop channels for legitimate business reasons, just not to discriminate in channel carriage for other reasons, which would run afoul of Federal Communications Commission rules.

In response to the DirecTV move and Newsmax complaints, Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee; Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee; Mike Lee (R-Utah); and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) wrote the CEOs of DirecTV and parents AT&T and TPG Capital, voicing concerns and “demanding” answers.

Also: DirecTV Drops Bloomberg TV After More Than 25 Years

The legislators said the move looked like “the latest example of big business suppressing politically disfavored speech at the behest of liberal Democrats.”

DirecTV also dropped conservative channel One America News Network, which Cruz and company cited as another possible decision pressured by Democrats, who had called on it to drop OANN.

The senators want answers to a raft of questions — for example: “Why did DirecTV decide to drop Newsmax while it continued to carry and pay the liberal news and information channel Vice, which reportedly has much lower ratings than Newsmax?” — as well as any documents related to the dropping of both channels as well as “any communications they have had with the White House, Democrat members of Congress, or Democrat campaign committees relating to Newsmax or OANN.”

Since Republicans do not control the Senate or committee chairmanships and their investigative authority, the best they can do is ask for the info and hope. ■

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.