Roku said it will keep the One America News Network (OANN) channel on its platform, despite widespread condemnation of a segment that appeared on the channel Tuesday morning.
“We operate a platform with a wide selection of entertainment and content with diverse points of view. While we do not block or censor content based on viewpoint, we reserve the right to remove a channel that has the potential to cause harm to our platform,” Roku said in a statement, relayed via Twitter by TheVerge reporter Juiia Alexander.
“We are not removing the channel at this time,” Roku said.
Roku’s position is notable because it previously responded to social media backlash in January 2019 by banning Infowars, another right wing content channel. Roku also recently removed a channel themed around the QAnon conspiracy theory.
Roku, according to Fast Company, isn't just hosting the OANN channel on its platform, it's actively promoting OAN.
"On Roku players and smart TVs, One America News enjoys prominent promotion as part of The Roku Channel, a free app that had 36 million viewers last quarter," Fast Company said. "There, OANN offers an offshoot of its cable channel called OAN Encore, with much of the same news and commentary. OAN Encore gets a big promotional thumbnail on the app’s main menu in a section for live TV channels, sometimes ahead of mainstream outlets such as Reuters and USA Today. It also appears in The Roku Channel’s 'News' section and is part of a new live TV channel guide that mimics the grid menu on cable boxes."
San Diego, Calif.-based OANN fell under scrutiny Tuesday morning, after President Donald Trump tweeted that Buffalo-area protester Martin Gugino, the 75-year-old victim of an alleged on-camera police assault still in critical condition at a local hospital, might actually be a provocateur for Antifa, a group Trump has labeled as a terrorist organization.
“Could be a setup,” the President wrote.
That rumor originated from an OANN segment Tuesday morning, which reported on a theory put forth by a conservative blog.
Trump’s tweet sparked widescale backlash, even among Republican constituents in Congress.
"It's a serious accusation which should only be made with facts and evidence, and I haven't seen any yet,” said Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.).
But the backlash doesn’t seem to be affecting OANN. Alexander of The Verge said she also approached Amazon, Apple and AT&T to see if they would sanction the channel, but the companies haven’t responded yet.
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Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!