Ron DeSantis Piles Onto DirecTV in Newsmax Kerfuffle ... Which Has Barely Been Covered by Fox News?

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis
Don't say pay ... TV discrimination against conservative networks is something I just made up to rile my base, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis says. (Image credit: Getty Images)

No stranger to weighing in on issues that stoke the outraged frontal lobes of his political base, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has thrown shade against DirecTV over its carriage battle with Newsmax ... days after former President Donald Trump, Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and 41 conservative Congressional lawmakers called for House investigations of the pay TV operator. 

Also read: Newsmax IDs Its List of America's 23 'Liberal News Networks' -- Topped by ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN ... and The Weather Channel?

Accusing DirecTV of targeting Newsmax, as well as One America News Network, another far-right news channel it dropped last year, DeSantis said at a news conference Tuesday that the satellite TV company's decision "does warrant an investigation." 

He added, "I think probably the Congress, in the House, would probably be best to do it."

For his part, McCarthy promised last week that there would in fact be committee hearings in regard to what GOP lawmakers say is a systemic bias against conservative voices held by DirecTV's stakeholders. 

Unless you've been hunkered down in your survival bunker for several weeks, or you've been canvassing Arizona door-to-door amid defeated gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake's imponderable stop-the-steal! campaign, you may have missed that DirecTV dropped Newsmax last week ... or Newsmax removed its channel from DirecTV, depending on who you believe. 

For media and political watchers, this particular carriage war, garden variety as it might be minus its strange politicization, has proven a bit baffling. For one, DirecTV, which is now being labeled as silencer of conservative voices, helped incubate both Newsmax and OAN.

Both channels have limited audiences. In the case of Newsmax, it only averaged 101,000 viewers, or 0.1% of the TV audience last year. (OAN drew far less than that.)

Meanwhile, in addition to being a prominent denizen of American capitalism, free to make business decisions in areas like program licensing that aren't overtly regulated by the FCC, DirecTV majority owner AT&T is a Dallas-based telecom that has worked closely -- perhaps too closely -- with Republican lawmakers, in the recent past, on issues like corporate tax reform. 

And private equity company TPG, which owns the other 30% of DirecTV is, well, a private equity firm. You don't typically see a lot of these guys at, say, Biden fundraisers. 

Another thing that DirecTV has stated ... and Newsmax hasn't disputed: The source of the friction is Newsmax's demand that DirecTV start paying it an actual carriage fee instead of carrying the channel under all-advertising terms. 

As if an arcane pay TV carriage war seeping into the broader Culture Wars and associated Outrage Machine wasn't in and of itself fascinating enough, The Daily Beast on Monday uncovered an interesting data tidbit: Fox News, which has a proverbial multiyear licensing deal to cover conservative outrage, has only given the DirecTV/Newsmax issue 35 seconds of total coverage. 

Eric Bolling, a former Fox News anchor now situated at Newsmax, called out on the air Monday, asking, "Where are you, Fox?"

Meanwhile, a Newsmax rep told The Daily Beast, "The fact Fox News won’t cover this blatant censorship of a conservative network like Newsmax demonstrates they can’t be trusted to be the only source of news for millions of Americans.”

Daniel Frankel

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!